Public/Global Health

WHO looks to revive probe into COVID-19 origins: report

The World Health Organization (WHO) is looking to revive a probe into the origins of the COVID-19 virus, assembling a team of 20 scientists to hunt for new evidence, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

The new probe comes after an initial WHO inquiry - including visits to Wuhan, China, the site of the first confirmed COVID-19 outbreak in late 2019 - found that that the data provided by Chinese scientists was insufficient to answer critical questions about the virus' origin. 

WHO officials said that the new team of scientists, named the Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens, may be charged with examining whether the novel virus emerged from a lab, as well as broader inquiries into future virus risks and the links with human behavior, according to the Journal.

The new team of scientists includes specialists in laboratory safety and biosecurity and experts in geneticists and animal disease. 

The United Nations agency is also saying that the new initiative will help accelerate an investigation that risks running out of time, and blood samples from early COVID-19 victims become unusable. 

U.S. officials such as Secretary of State Antony Blinken have been pressing WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to renew the inquiry. 

Chinese officials have insisted for months that the organization should be looking into other countries such as Italy and the U.S. regarding the origins of the virus, the Journal reported. 

China's President Xi Jinping told the UN general assembly on Tuesday that his country will continue to support global science-based opinions, but are still opposed to "political maneuvering in whatever form."

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