The World Health Organization presented Wednesday a planned team of experts tasked with investigating novel viruses and averting future pandemics, as well as reopening the halted investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
The committee of 26 specialists will be tasked with developing a new worldwide framework for investigating the origins of emerging diseases with epidemic and pandemic potential. Their mandate includes the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, SARS-CoV-2.
Aside from the COVID-19 problem, a growing number of high-risk infections, such as MERS, avian flu viruses, Lassa, Marburg, and Ebola, have emerged or resurfaced in recent years.
Earlier this year, the WHO announced the formation of a Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO).
“The introduction of novel viruses with the potential to start epidemics and pandemics is a part of nature, and while SARS-CoV-2 is the most recent such virus, it will not be the last,” stated World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“Understanding where novel infections emerge is critical for preventing future epidemic and pandemic outbreaks, and it necessitates a wide spectrum of expertise.”
“We are very delighted with the calibre of specialists chosen from around the world for SAGO, and we look forward to working with them to make the world safer.”
The 26 recommended members are subject to a two-week public consultation after being picked from a field of over 700 applicants from a variety of fields.
Christian Drosten, the director of Berlin’s Institute of Virology, is among them.
Marion Koopmans of the Netherlands and Hung Nguyen of Vietnam were among the scientists on the joint WHO-China scientific team exploring the origins of Covid-19.
The committee must provide the WHO with an unbiased evaluation of all known scientific and technological data from global investigations on the origins of COVID-19, according to the terms of reference.
It must also advise the UN health agency on the development, monitoring, and support of the next series of studies into the virus’s origins, including “rapid advice” on the WHO’s operational plans to implement the next series of studies into the pandemic’s origins, as well as advise on additional studies.
The WHO feels that determining the cause of the biggest pandemic in a century is critical.
Since the virus was discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, it has killed over 4.85 million people and wreaked havoc on the global economy.