Bat or laboratory ?: WHO has new equipment to investigate the origin of Covid

More than twenty high-ranking experts will investigate the new pathogens for the World Health Organization (WHO) and will return to study the origin of Covid-19. The covid-19 pandemic revealed that the world was not prepared, not even the WHO.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the launch of a “Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of New Pathogens”, called “SAGO” for its acronym in English.

Following a call for nominations, the WHO selected 26 out of 700, including German virologist Christian Drosten; Inger Damon, of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of the United States; Jean-Claude Manuguerra, virologist at the Pasteur Institute in France and Yungui Yang, deputy director of the Beijing Institute of Genomics.

“According to WHO procedures, there will be a two-week public consultation period, for WHO to receive comments on the proposals from SAGO members and to put in place the modalities of the first meeting,” the agency explained. the UN in a statement.

Some of the selected experts have already participated in the joint scientific mission of the WHO and China on the origin of COVID-19, such as the Dutch Marion Koopmans and the Vietnamese Hung Nguyen. That mission traveled to Wuhan, China, in January, where the virus was first detected, and published a report on March 29. But this one did not include any conclusive answers, instead listing four possible scenarios. Of these, the one that was considered most likely was that the virus was transmitted to man through an intermediary animal, infected by a bat.

It was also hypothesized that the virus was transmitted directly, without an intermediary; by food – such as frozen meat – or by an accidental leak from a laboratory, something that, however, was deemed “extremely unlikely”. This last hypothesis was ruled out practically from the first hour, for which the authors of the report were accused of mitigating the responsibility of China. The head of the WHO did not take long to ensure that the four hypotheses were on the table.

In the context of the pandemic, the SAGO will have to guide the WHO on the next steps to be taken to understand the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, publishing an “independent evaluation” of all scientific and technical conclusions. available in the world.

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