Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday, March 2, 2020. More than $1.1 trillion was wiped off the value of developing-nation stocks and bonds last week as the economic impact of the coronavirus worsened. Photographer: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg
The World Health Organization has announced the establishment of a scientific advisory group aimed at identifying the origin of COVID-19 and to better prepare for future outbreaks of other deadly pathogens.
The WHO’s Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins on Novel Pathogens, orSAGO, will include scientists from the U.S., China and about two dozen other countries. It will be charged with answering the question of how the novel coronavirus first infected humans — a mystery that continues to elude experts more than 18 months into the crisis. The group will also be responsible for establishing a framework to combat future pandemics
Maria Van Kerkhove, the head of WHO’s emerging disease unit, called the establishment of the new group “a real opportunity right now to get rid of all the noise, all the politics surrounding this and focus on what we know, what we don’t know.”
The team will be selected from more than 700 applications from experts in fields including epidemiology, animal health, ecology, clinical medicine, virology, genomics, molecular epidemiology, molecular biology, biology, food safety, biosafety, biosecurity and public health, the WHO said in a statement.