WHO announces committee to probe COVID-19 pandemic origins

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There are 26 proposed members

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The World Health Organization (WHO) announced 26 proposed members for an advisory committee that aims to advance the study of the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and other pathogens of pandemic potential.

NS Scientific Advisory Group for the Origin of Novel Pathogens (SAGO) Nine months after the global health agency sent experts to China marks the latest effort to uncover the start of the coronavirus pandemic. In March, WHO released Its report good On the origins of the coronavirus, with the research team listing introduction through an intermediary host, following zoonotic transmission as the root of the initial spread as “very likely” and “extremely unlikely” through a laboratory event. as introduction.

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Overall, without any definitive conclusions as to how the virus made its way into the human population, the team, which included international experts, called for “an ongoing scientific and collaborative approach to tracing the origins of COVID-19″. . ”

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“The emergence of new viruses with the potential to spread epidemics and pandemics is a fact of nature, and while SARS-CoV-2 is the latest such virus, it will not be the last,” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, said in Statement Released Wednesday. “Understanding where new pathogens come from is essential to preventing future outbreaks of epidemics and the potential for epidemics, and this requires a wide range of expertise.”

The WHO noted that dozens of proposed members were chosen from a pool of more than 700 applications. The 26 members have expertise in areas such as “epidemiology, animal health, ecology, clinical medicine, virology, genomics”.

“We are very pleased with the ability of the experts selected for SAGO from around the world, and look forward to working with them to make the world safer,” Tedros said.

There will be a two-week public consultation period for WHO to receive feedback on the proposed SAGO members and to determine the modalities for its first meeting after the consultation period.

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In its capacity as an advisory body to WHO, SAGO will advise the organization on the development of a WHO global framework to define and guide studies into the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens of epidemic and pandemic potential, as well as Will advise WHO on prioritizing study and field investigations across disciplines.

In addition, the Committee will provide information and opinions to assist the WHO Secretariat in the development of SAGO’s detailed action plan.

In the context of the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, SAGO will provide the WHO Secretariat with an independent assessment of all available scientific and technical findings from global studies and advise the WHO Secretariat on the development, monitoring and support of the next series. of related studies, reads the release.

SAGO will provide “rapid advice” on WHO’s operational plans to implement the next series of global studies into the origins of SARS-CoV-2, outlined in the March report. Finally, the Committee will provide any additional advice and assistance to WHO, as requested by the WHO SAGO Secretariat, including participation in future WHO-international missions to study the origins of SARS-CoV-2 or other emerging pathogens is included.

Reuters reported that the WHO initiated the request for applications last August and September.

a public list The proposed members provided by WHO show that parent team The committee enlists 10 international experts, including Dutch virologist Marion Koopman, Danish epidemiologist Thea Fischer, British epidemiologist John Watson, Russian researcher Vladimir Dedkov, Vietnam animal health expert Hung Nguyen and Qatar epidemiologist Elmobasher Farg. .

Any future investigation into China could potentially prove difficult as the country has repeatedly said it considers an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 there. completed.


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