The World Health Organization proposed a new team to lead an investigation into the origins of Covid-19 and other diseases after the latest attempt was thwarted by controversy.
The 26 proposed members of the group have experience in a range of fields from epidemiology to biosafety, the WHO said on Wednesday.
“Understanding where new pathogens come from is essential to preventing future outbreaks with epidemic and pandemic potential, which requires a wide range of expertise,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
A joint WHO mission to China earlier this year revealed that the coronavirus may have spread from bats to humans. Although the team considered it a laboratory incident, the WHO director called for further research.
US President Joe Biden has criticized China for its great efforts to understand the genesis of SARS-COV-2, while China has accused the US and its allies of blaming a pandemic that has killed nearly 5 million people globally.
Tedros said scientists have not yet processed data on possible infections by the end of 2019. The WHO has proposed audits of laboratories and research centers in Wuhan, the city where the first cases were identified, as well as studies on animals, humans and environments may have played a role in the occurrence of coronavirus.
The new study will face new obstacles. Beijing has said it will reject calls for an investigation if the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a high-security facility on the outskirts of the city that was conducting research on the coronavirus.
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