WHO announces next phase in COVID-19 origin investigation

WHO announces next phase in COVID-19 origin investigation
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The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the next steps in its investigation into the origins of the coronavirus on Thursday, telling countries they should cooperate and depoliticize the situation.

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 that need to be undertaken and continues to be in discussions with Member States and experts on next steps,” reads a statement from the organization.

In order for the next studies to be done, all countries have to “depoliticize the situation and cooperate” with the organization and each other.

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The origins of COVID-19 have become a hot topic after many dismissed a theory last year that the virus could have been made in a laboratory in China, denouncing it as a conspiracy. Attitudes changed after WHO found there was “insufficient scientific evidence to rule any of the hypotheses out,” including the suggestion the virus could have been made in a lab.

The two leading theories for the origins of the virus are the “lab hypothesis” and the idea that it was transmitted from an animal.

The WHO wants to implement suggestions from a March report, start first phase studies and develop a plan for future pandemics, the statement says.

The organization stressed the importance of sharing data during the investigation, singling out China, as it has been reluctant to give the WHO access to information.

“Sharing raw data and giving permission for the retesting of samples in labs outside of Italy reflects scientific solidarity at its best and is no different from what we encourage all countries, including China, to support so that we can advance the studies of the origins quickly and effectively,” the WHO said.

The group reemphasized the investigation will be difficult and that it will take a significant amount of time before a conclusion can be drawn.