WHO has selected experts to study the origin of SARS-CoV-2
The organization stressed that out of 700 applications, 26 experts from various fields were selected for the group. The composition of the group reflects geographical and gender diversity, the WHO stressed
The World Health Organization (WHO) has summed up the results of the selection of experts to the scientific advisory Group for the study of the origin of new pathogens (WHO Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens, SAGO). This is stated in a message published on the organization's website.
SAGO will advise WHO on issues related to research on the origin of new and emerging pathogens with epidemic and pandemic potential, including SARS-CoV-2.
"The emergence of new viruses capable of causing epidemics and pandemics is a fact of nature, and although SARS—CoV-2 is the last such virus, this process will not end there," said WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus. "Understanding where new pathogens come from is necessary to prevent future outbreaks with epidemic and pandemic potential and requires a wide range of knowledge. We are very pleased with the level of experts selected for SAGO from all over the world and look forward to working with them to make the world safer," the WHO Director General added.
In total, more than 700 applications were received for the competition, 26 scientists from various fields of knowledge were selected, including epidemiology, veterinary medicine, ecology, clinical medicine, virology, genomics, molecular epidemiology, molecular biology, general biology, food safety, biosafety, biosecurity and public health. The composition of SAGO reflects geographical and gender diversity, the WHO stressed.
As an advisory body to WHO, SAGO will perform the following functions:
advise WHO on research on the origin of new and emerging pathogens with epidemic and pandemic potential;
advise WHO on prioritization of research and field studies of the origin of emerging and newly emerging pathogens;
Provide the WHO Secretariat with an independent assessment of all available scientific and technical results of global studies on the origin of SARS-CoV-2;
Advise the WHO Secretariat on the development, monitoring and support of research on the origin of SARS-CoV-2;
To provide WHO with additional advice and support in future WHO international missions to study the origin of SARS-CoV-2 or other new pathogens.
In September 2021, WHO announced that it would resume the investigation of the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus with a new group of scientists. The organization announced a new stage of the investigation a few months after the first group of researchers returned from Wuhan, China. Experts presented four versions of the appearance of SARS-CoV-2, the most likely of which was the version about the transmission of coronavirus to humans from bats through an intermediary animal. At the same time, the possibility of a virus leak from a laboratory in Wuhan was called "extremely unlikely" by the WHO.
At the end of September, the chairman of the commission on coronavirus infection COVID-19 of The Lancet medical journal, Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University disbanded a group of scientists studying the origin of the coronavirus. The dissolution of the group occurred due to a conflict of interest, as some members of the group were associated with the American non-profit organization EcoHealth Alliance, which, in turn, collaborated with the Institute of Virology from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first outbreak of COVID-19 was recorded at the end of 2019.
Prominent American politicians and experts, including Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, have repeatedly stated about the need to investigate the version of the artificial origin of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus or its leaks from the laboratory in Wuhan. In July 2021, China refused to cooperate with WHO at the second stage of the investigation into the origin of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.