WHO eyes China lab audits subsequent in COVID origin probe

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The World Well being Group mentioned on Friday that the second stage of an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 ought to embrace additional research in China and lab audits.

In a closed-door briefing to member states, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus proposed 5 priorities for the following part of the investigation.

They included “audits of related laboratories and analysis establishments working within the space of the preliminary human circumstances recognized in December 2019”, in keeping with a duplicate of his opening assertion supplied by the WHO.

He additionally advised investigators ought to give attention to “research prioritising geographic areas with the earliest indication of circulation of SARS CoV-2”, the virus that causes COVID-19.

And he known as for extra research of animal markets in and across the Chinese language metropolis of Wuhan, the place the illness was first detected.

The UN well being company has been underneath intensifying stress for a brand new, extra in-depth investigation of how the illness that has killed over 4 million individuals around the globe first emerged.

The WHO was solely capable of ship a group of unbiased, worldwide specialists to Wuhan in January, greater than a yr after COVID-19 first surfaced there in late 2019, to assist Chinese language counterparts probe the pandemic origins.

‘Extraordinarily unlikely’

They revealed a report in late March, however drew no agency conclusions about how the virus first jumped to people.

As an alternative they ranked a number of hypotheses in keeping with how seemingly they believed they have been, discovering that it was more than likely the virus jumped from bats to people through an intermediate animal. An alternate concept involving the virus leaking from a laboratory was deemed “extraordinarily unlikely”.

The investigation confronted criticism for missing transparency and entry, and for not evaluating the lab-leak concept extra deeply.

Lengthy derided as a right-wing conspiracy concept, and vehemently rejected by Beijing, the concept COVID-19 might have emerged from a lab leak has been gaining momentum.

In keeping with info obtained by AFP, the WHO has now developed a protocol for evaluating laboratory security and organic safety to assist confirm whether or not the virus might have emerged attributable to a lab accident.

The protocol, which the company goals to make use of to research the COVID-19 origin in addition to attainable future outbreaks, offers measures for evaluating, amongst different issues, the storage of virus samples and dealing with of waste.


Tedros, who has at all times maintained that each one theories remained on the desk, advised journalists on Thursday that the push to rule out the attainable hyperlink to a lab leak had been “untimely”.

Chinese language Overseas Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian rejected that, standing by the primary mission’s conclusion {that a} lab leak was “extraordinarily unlikely”, and warning that “this subject shouldn’t be politicised”.

He additionally rejected Tedros’s cost at Thursday’s press convention that China had did not share the uncooked information wanted throughout the first part of the investigation, insisting the visiting specialists got satisfactory entry.

In his assertion on Friday, Tedros thanked China and different international locations “who wrote to me yesterday, and I agree that discovering the origins of this virus is a scientific train that should be saved free from politics”.

“We count on China to assist this subsequent part of the scientific course of by sharing all related information in a spirit of transparency,” he mentioned.

After the primary mission went to China, Beijing has been pushing for the following part to focus elsewhere.

Diplomatic sources who considered the doc circulated to missions earlier this week as a foundation for Friday’s briefing mentioned China was the one nation talked about as a vacation spot for the following mission.


Tedros highlighted that attending to the underside of the thriller of the place COVID-19 got here from was “important”, for “understanding how the pandemic began and stopping future outbreaks.”

The WHO chief additionally introduced Friday the creation of a brand new everlasting Worldwide Scientific Advisory Group for Origins of Novel Pathogens, or SAGO.

The brand new group, he mentioned, would “play a significant function within the subsequent part” of the COVID origins research, “in addition to the origins of future new pathogens.”

WHO chief says it was ‘untimely’ to rule out COVID lab leak

© 2021 AFP

WHO eyes China lab audits subsequent in COVID origin probe (2021, July 16)
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