World Health Organization Starting New COVID Origins Investigation

( The World Health Organization has revived its stalled investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 virus. A new team of about twenty scientists is being assembled with the mandate to look for new evidence in China and elsewhere.

The twenty scientist team includes specialists in lab safety and biosecurity, geneticists, and animal disease experts familiar with how viruses spillover from nature.

The US and its allies have been urging the WHO to push ahead with the probe despite resistance from Beijing which has argued that any new inquiry should focus on other countries including the US.

According to WHO officials, the new team will examine whether the virus could have emerged from a lab, a theory that has infuriated China.

This new effort comes months after the previous WHO-led inquiry visited Wuhan, the city at the heart of the COVID-19 outbreak. In the final report from that investigation, the team said the data provided by Chinese scientists was insufficient in answering the critical questions of when, where and how the virus began spreading.

Biden administration officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, have pressed Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus both publicly and privately to renew the inquiry, which is likely to include at least one American scientist (hopefully not Anthony Fauci or Peter Daszak).

This new effort represents a fresh attempt to advance an investigation that the WHO’s own staff warns must race against the clock to complete before such evidence as blood samples are thrown away. As it is, antibodies in the earliest COVID-19 victims are fading to undetectable levels.

The new Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens will be a permanent panel which will aid the WHO in investigating future outbreaks and identify human activities that raise the risk of the emergence of new diseases. As part of its mission, it will take charge of the new probe into the origin of COVID-19.

In the previous WHO investigation, which consisted of about 10 foreign experts, the scientists recommended that their Chinese counterparts analyze blood banks, test farmworkers, and further scrutinize the earliest suspected cases.

Big surprise, but these Chinese counterparts have yet to say whether any of that work has been done. Since then, the original WHO investigative team has been disbanded.
China’s foreign ministry said that Beijing plans to closely monitor the WHO’s selection of a new team, and has also put forth a number of individuals it wants to be part of it.

In the previous WHO investigation, China laid heavy conditions on the choice of the original team and also insisted on signing off on the final report.

With this new, larger team drawn from a wider array of countries and areas of expertise, it is likely China’s sway over the investigation will be harder to pull off.