W.H.O. and Critics Look at What’s Next to Investigate Virus Origins

Joint International and Chinese Mission organized by the World Health Organization on the origin of Kovid Released its report last week Suggesting that to cover almost every topic, more study was needed. What kind of study and who will do it is a question.

Report Suggested an investigation of several lines, focusing on the possible origin of coronaviruses in bats. It concluded that the most likely route to humans was through an intermediate animal, perhaps in a wildlife farm. According to the team’s proposed proposal, future efforts may include surveys of blood banks, which may appear before December 2019 and track potential animal sources of the virus.

Critics of the report consider the possibility that a laboratory incident in Wuhan may have caused the first human infection. An organized group of scientists and others, who are virtually meeting to discuss the possibility of a lab leak, released an open letter this week outlining several ways to conduct a thorough investigation. It called for further action, arguing that “vital records and biological samples that can provide essential insights into the epidemic origins are inaccessible.”

Echoes of the letter A statement released before the same group was seen as failures of the WHO mission. This second paper is more specific in the kind of future investigations that it proposes.

The group is seeking a new investigation that will include biodiversity and biosafety experts, one that includes the WHO or a separate multifunction effort to establish a separate process to detect the onset of the pandemic and its origins in China. Can.

Jamie Metzl, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, an international policy think tank and signatory to the scientists’ letter, said the renewed call for a more in-depth investigation noted that the study of viruses and greater surveillance of sanctions is required. In laboratories around the world.

“This is not about ganging up on China,” Mr. Metzl said.

Mr. Metzle’s group was disappointed by this The report released last week, As it is dismissed out of hand from the Wuhan Institute of Virology likely to leak, it is highly unlikely.

The head of WHO, Drs. Tedros Adnom Ghebaius later stated that the mission’s idea of ​​a possible laboratory leak was not “widely enough”.

He continued, “Although the team concludes that a laboratory leak is the least likely, it potentially requires investigation with additional missions involving specialist personnel, which I am prepared to deploy.”

From the beginning, the mission’s task was never to investigate security or procedures at the Wuhan Lab, where a great deal of research on bat coronaviruses has been done in recent years, or at any other laboratories in China.

A collaborative scientific effort was made by a group of international experts and their Chinese counterparts to study the origins of the epidemic by WHO’s authorized member nations.

The team of international scientists had no power or mandate to act independently of their Chinese colleagues. As the member nations decided, each term in the report had to be approved by both Chinese and international groups. They had 28 days in China, two weeks of which were in quarantine in a hotel.

The results, which include an extensive review of existing scientific literature, evidence in favor of a mainstream understanding of the origin of the virus, which is that a bat coronavirus likely gave it to another animal and then humans. This is what happened with the earlier coronavirus epidemics of SARS and MERS.

Similar viruses have been found in bats and pangolins, though not so close as to fall on humans. The suspicion of a laboratory leak is built on the assumption that labs in China collect and study these viruses and that Chinese scientists are lying about the research they have done or are unaware that their institutions What is going on in

Xi Zhengli, director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology and representative of other internationally known Chinese scientists, has stated that SARS-CoV-2 was not present in any Chinese laboratory. Nor did any virus have enough for people to make the leap, he has said.

Some experts who have not signed either open letter criticizing the WHO feel that a different kind of investigation is needed.

Dr., an infectious disease specialist at Georgetown University. Daniel Lucy stated that he thought based on the genetics of the virus and gave several established examples of the spread of disease from animals to people that the virus originated in nature. But he also said that he felt it was possible that it was present in a laboratory in Wuhan and survived to start an epidemic, perhaps because someone had been accidentally infected.

On the question of viral origin, he said, “I’m not really convinced that it came from a laboratory, but it hasn’t been investigated enough.”

He said he felt the report was a “grand slam home run” for China. What China wants, he said, is to “create reasonable suspicion that the virus originated in China.” And, he said, the report suggests that the virus has originated in other countries in Southeast Asia and perhaps even in Europe.

Jesse Bloom, an evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, who did not sign the critical letter either, said he did not see evidence in the report to dismiss the lab’s potential role.

“I think the natural origin of the epidemic is entirely plausible,” Dr. Bloom said, but he said that he was a Dr. Agreed with Tedros that the assessment of a laboratory accident was not comprehensive enough and required further investigation.

In addition to the lab, the report mentions several promising guidelines for future studies, including the detection of animal products or animal pathways that may carry the virus to Wuhan’s markets.

Peter Daszak, head of the Ecolitis Alliance, who was lambasted by the Lab Leak Theorists for his previous work with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said the findings so far showed that animals ranging from animals to people are the most likely wild animals. . There are many such farms in China and Southeast Asia, and they have contact with animals, such as raccoon dogs and civets, with both bats and people. According to the WHO report, no evidence has been found of the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in thousands of trials of animal and animal samples from China in seafood and other markets.

The report also mentions that both mink and cats have been proven susceptible to infection easily, possibly from humans, and are potential reservoirs of the virus. Cats have not been shown to pass the virus on to humans, But mink. China has a thriving mink industry, but WHO has not reported any mink farm infection

Dr. Lucy said he cited the lack of information about China’s mink farms as “the silence of the mink”.

According to human studies, the report states that blood tests can be very useful in blood bank donations made from September to December 2019. The first recorded outbreak occurred in December 2019 in Wuhan’s Huanan Market.

Marion Kopmans, a Dutch virologist at the University of Erasmus, Rotterdam, said the WHO mission asked the Wuhan blood bank system to hang the donated blood for a period of time. She said she agreed, and now the Chinese are seeking permission to test the blood for antibodies to the virus that can help pin the virus properly when it first appears in humans. If such studies were extended, it may also help with location.

Dr. Kopamans said he hoped the study of blood donation could be extended to other provinces and territories outside China. “My correct study design would be to include areas in Italy and France where there were potential signs of the presence of the virus before December,” she said.

He said that standardized tests should be done for all the areas under consideration. This in turn may indicate an early isolated pocket of the virus. Wildlife trials can be productive in such areas.

Dr. Kopamans defended the mission of the WHO team, stating that it was always intended to carry out scientific studies with Chinese allies. If an investigation is the goal, he said, “You need to do an inspection or something, but it is not a scientific study.”

Critics agree on that. One of the most voluminous sections of the WHO critics’ letter is about the composition of the team investigating the Chinese laboratories. If the ground rule is rewritten for another mission, the letter states, WHO must “ensure the inclusion of a broad skill-set in the team of international experts, including biosafety and biosafety specialists, biodata Analyst and experienced forensic investigator. “

Almost at the end of the report, discussing what needs to be done to learn more about the possibility of a laboratory incident, the report recommends: “Regular administrative and internal review of high-level biosafety laboratories worldwide . Adhering to the new evidence supplied around possible laboratory leaks. “

Mr Metzl said that he could not agree more and said that in future, such a review should involve the US lab. But, he said, the epidemic is of utmost urgency and he wants to start immediately with China. Still, he and other signatories to the two papers said, are highly concerned with the research of viruses worldwide.

While many virologists and pathologists want to learn more as a way to collect and study the virus and be more prepared for outbreaks, Mr. Metzl said he and others wanted more restrictions on the study of the virus .

“It completely makes sense to establish a global regulatory system that oversees aggressive work with dangerous or deadly pathogens everywhere,” he said.

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