‘Last chance’: WHO unveils new team to probe pandemic
United Nations, Oct 14: The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a team of 26 scientists to revive the stalled investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
The world health body has proposed 26 names, out of 700 applications received by it, for the WHO Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO). It described as the world's "last chance" to determine the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which birthed the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
"The emergence of new viruses with the potential to spark epidemics and pandemics is a fact of nature, and while SARS-CoV-2 is the latest such virus, it will not be the last," said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
"Understanding where new pathogens come from is essential for preventing future outbreaks," he said.
"The 26 experts were selected from over 700 applications, and were chosen for their world-class expertise and experience in a range of disciplines, as well as their geographic and gender diversity. We thank all those who expressed interest in SAGO," he added.
Most scientists suspect that the coronavirus originated in bats, but the exact route by which it first jumped into people -- via an intermediary animal or in some other way -- has not yet been determined.
It typically takes decades to narrow down the natural source of an animal virus like Ebola or SARS.