The World Health Organization announced that it was setting up a new group to trace the origins of the coronavirus, seeking to end what it called political point scoring that had hampered investigations. The inability of the WHO to say where and how the virus began spreading has fueled tensions among its members. This is particularly between China, where COVID cases were first identified in Wuhan. The WHO called for all governments to cooperate to accelerate studies into the origins of the COVID and to depoliticize the situation.
It specified that a new advisory group called the International Scientific Advisory Group for Origins of Novel Pathogens would support the rapid undertaking of further studies. WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib said at a U.N. briefing that, everyone should work together and all wants to know the origin of worst pandemic in a century. Washington welcomed the WHO plan, noting the emphasis on scientific-based studies and data driven efforts to find the origins of this pandemic so that we can better detect, prevent and respond to future disease outbreaks. President Joe Biden also had ordered aides to find answers on its origins and report back.
In its final report, written jointly with Chinese scientists, a WHO-led team that spent four weeks in and around the city of Wuhan in January and February said that the virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal. It said that a leak from a laboratory was extremely unlikely. The WHO mission leader Peter Ben Embarek said in a documentary in Denmark that, the lab hypothesis merited further study. A WHO official said that its statement on advancing the virus origins study bore no relation to those remarks, noting that the Ben Embarek interview was filmed months ago. China stated that it has never rejected cooperation on tracing COVID origins, state media quoted the country’s vice foreign minister as saying.