WHO sets up new investigation team into origins of COVID-19

The World Health Organization said Thursday it has set up a new investigation team into the origins of COVID-19 after criticism from China that the study had been “politicized”.

“Following the publication of the WHO-China joint report of the phase one studies on the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in March 2021, WHO has outlined the next series of studies … and continues to be in discussions with member states and experts on next steps,” said the WHO.

However, the WHO noted that China and other states had suggested that the March study had been “politicized” or that the WHO acted due to “political pressure.”

On July 17, WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus said he expects China’s support for the next phase of the scientific process to identify the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the coronavirus after the first part was criticized.

The US, which has fully engaged with the WHO after former President Donald Trump said it would leave, has criticized the report along with other nations, urging further investigations, which drew criticism from China.

WHO said: “To move forward, WHO calls for all governments to depoliticize the situation and cooperate to accelerate the origins studies, and importantly to work together to develop a common framework for future emerging pathogens of pandemic potential.”

The origins of SARS-CoV-2 should not attribute “blame, finger-pointing” and “it is vitally important to know how the COVID-19 pandemic began, to set an example for establishing the origins of all future animal-human spillover events,” said the WHO.

WHO announced the International Scientific Advisory Group for Origins of Novel Pathogens, or SAGO, a new advisory group to advise on a framework to study the emergence of future emerging pathogens with pandemic potential.

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