Geneva, Aug 20: The World Health Organisation has issued a call for experts to join a new advisory group to address the agency's attempts to further investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement on Friday, the UN health agency says the new scientific group would provide WHO with an independent analysis of the scientific work done to date to pinpoint the origins of COVID-19 and to advise the agency on necessary next steps.
The experts also will provide guidance on critical issues regarding the potential emergence of other viruses capable of triggering outbreaks, such as MERS and Ebola.
In March, a WHO-led team of international experts issued a preliminary report that deemed it “extremely unlikely” the origins of COVID-19 were linked to a laboratory. Although most experts think it's most probable the virus jumped to humans from animals, the theory that a laboratory was involved has gained traction in recent months. An intelligence review was ordered by US President Joe Biden to examine the possibility.
WHO's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged last month it was “premature” to rule out the lab leak theory. The agency's team leader said during a trip to China that he was worried about safety standards at a facility close to where the first human COVID-19 cases were detected in Wuhan.
WHO says it is seeking up to 25 officials with relevant expertise to apply for its new scientific advisory group by September 10.