WHO to revive inquiry into Covid-19 origins: Reporttext_fields
Geneva: The World Health Organization (WHO) will be restarting its inquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 virus, a US media reported.
The world health body is assembling a team of 20 scientists to hunt for new evidence, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.
According to the WSJ report, the new probe comes following an initial WHO inquiry found that that the data provided by Chinese scientists was insufficient to answer key questions about the virus' origin.
The report stated that the new team of scientists, which includes specialists in laboratory safety and biosecurity and experts in geneticists, 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 behaviour.
WHO believes that the new initiative will help accelerate a probe that risks running out of time, and blood samples from early virus victims become unusable.
Earlier in August, the US had released a report tracing the origins of the COVID-19 virus. While rejecting the report, Beijing had lodged solemn representations with Washington terming the report as "completely political, and having no scientificity and credibility."
In a strongly-worded statement, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu had said the US should "stop poisoning" the international cooperation on virus tracing and return to the correct path of scientific origins tracing and cooperation in the fight against the pandemic.
The declassified summary of a report stated that the US Intelligence Community (IC) assesses that the origins of the novel coronavirus disease may never be definitively identified without additional information.
According to the report, the US intelligence community is still divided about which of the two theories -- that the virus came from a lab leak or that it jumped from animal to human, naturally. There is consensus among the intelligence agencies that the two prevailing theories are plausible, the report said.
A WHO-led team of scientists that travelled to China in early 2021 to investigate the origins of the virus struggled to get a clear picture of what research China was conducting beforehand, faced constraints during its visit, and had little power to conduct thorough and impartial research.