The World Health Organization (WHO) has selected its panel to investigate the origin of COVID-19, saying it is the ‘last chance’ to do so.
The 26 members of this panel include several individuals of the Wuhan probe who went to China in February for investigating the source of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. They are Chinese animal health expert Yang Yungui, Marion Koomans, Thea Fischer, and Hung Nguyen.
WHO’s top emergency expert Mike Ryan said the UN health agency is seeking to “take a step back, create an environment where we can again look at the scientific issues.”
“This is our best chance, and it may be our last chance to understand the origins of this virus.”
In response, China’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva Chen Xu said “I do believe that if we are going to continue with the scientific research I think it should be a joint effort based on science, not by the intelligence agencies.”
“So if we are going to talk about anything, we are doing the whole business with the framework of Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO).”
Earlier, China had refused WHO’s request to inspect animal breeding farms and bat caves in Enshi a few miles away from Wuhan.
WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that “The emergence of new viruses with the potential to spark epidemics and pandemics is a fact of nature, and while SARS-CoV-2 is the latest such virus, it will not be the last.”
“Understanding where new pathogens come from is essential for preventing future outbreaks.”
He had previously accused China of hampering the research of the origin of COVID-19 by lack of transparency and raw data and stresses on lab audits.
Former US President Donald Trump had accused China of developing and leaking the novel virus from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
China was the world’s first epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak. The first case of COVID-19 had emerged from Wuhan in December 2019.
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