WHO announces team of experts who will 'probe novel diseases, prevent future pandemics'
Aside from the Covid-19 problem, an increasing number of high-risk diseases, including MERS, avian flu viruses, Lassa, Marburg, and Ebola, have emerged or resurfaced in recent years.
The World Health Organization announced Wednesday, a planned team of experts tasked with investigating novel diseases and avoiding future pandemics, as well as resuming the halted investigation into the origins of Covid-19. The panel 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 SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19 illness. Aside from the Covid-19 problem, an increasing number of high-risk diseases, including 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 on the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO). According to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the emergence of new viruses with the potential to cause epidemics and pandemics is a natural occurrence. SARS-CoV-2 is the most recent example, but it will not be the last. The head went on to say that knowing where new illnesses arise is essential for preventing future epidemic and pandemic outbreaks, and that it needs a wide range of expertise.
The 26 prospective members are subject to a two-week public consultation after being picked from a field of over 700 applicants from various 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 specialists on the joint WHO-China scientific team studying the origins of Covid-19. The terms of reference include that the committee must provide the WHO with an unbiased assessment of all known scientific and technological results from global research on the origins of Covid-19.
The health body feels that determining the cause of the deadliest epidemic 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.