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The WHO and critics see what’s next in the investigation of virus origins.

A joint international and Chinese mission organized by the World Health Organization on the origin of COVID released a report last week suggesting that most of the topics discussed need further study. The question is what kind of education and who will do it.

The report recommends conducting multiple lines of inquiry focusing on the probable origins of the coronavirus in bats, concluding that the most likely path for humans is through intermediate animals, perhaps at wildlife farms. In a future endeavor, it could be a blood bank survey to look for potential cases before December 2019 and trace the source of the virus in wild animals in wildlife farms.

Critics of the report have considered further the possibility that a laboratory event in Wuhan could lead to the first human infection. A loosely organized group of scientists and others who met to discuss the possibility of the lab leak issued an open letter this week detailing several methods of conducting the investigations. Exam By calling for further action, claiming that “Crisis records and biological samples that could provide important insights into the origins of the epidemic remain inaccessible.”

Much of the letter reflects earlier releases from the same group detailing what it sees as a failure of the WHO mission.This second letter is more specific in the type of future investigations proposed.

The group is looking for a new investigation that will include biosafety and biosafety experts who may be involved in the World Health Organization or a separate multi-step effort to set up a different process to explore the starting point. The beginning of the epidemic and its origins in China

Jamie Metzl, senior fellow author of the Atlantic Council, an international policy maker and signatory to the scientist’s letter, said the call for a more thorough scrutiny reflects the need for scrutiny. And greater limitations on the virus that can be studied. In laboratories around the world

“This is not about the occupation of China,” Metsel said.

Mr Metzel’s group was among those disappointed by the report released last week as the report dismissed the possibility of a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, known as no. Very likely

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus later said the mission’s consideration of a possible laboratory leak was not. “Spacious enough”

He continued, “Although the team has come to the conclusion that the laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, it is the least likely hypothesis. But further investigation will be required, possibly with additional missions involving a specialist that I am ready to deploy. “

Since its inception, the mission has never examined safety or procedures at the Wuhan laboratory, which has undergone considerable research into the bat coronavirus in recent years, or at other laboratories in the Wuhan Laboratory. China

What the WHO member states mandate is a scientific cooperation by international expert groups and Chinese authorities to study the origins of the epidemic.

An international team of scientists does not have the power or authority to act independently of their Chinese peers. As required by member states, every word in the report must be endorsed by both the Chinese and the country. They have 28 days in China, with 2 weeks being quarantined at a hotel.

The results, which include extensive reviews of the scientific literature, provide evidence to support mainstream understanding of the origin of the virus, that the bat coronavirus is likely to spread to other animals and from. That goes to human beings This is what happened with SARS and Mers’ earlier coronavirus outbreaks.

Similar viruses were found in bats and pangolins, although they were not close enough to infect humans. The suspicion of the lab leak builds on the idea that laboratories in China collect and study these viruses, and that Chinese scientists are lying about the research they do or don’t know what happened. In their institution

Shi Zhengli, director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology and other internationally known Chinese scientists, said SARS-CoV-2 does not exist in Chinese laboratories. They said no virus was close enough to leapfrog people.

Some experts who have not signed an open letter criticizing the WHO think a different type of investigation is needed.

Dr. Daniel Lucie, an infectious disease specialist at Georgetown University, said he thinks based on the virus’s genetics and model of the transmission of many zoonotic diseases where the virus originated in nature But he also said he thought it might have been in a laboratory in Wuhan and escaped to start the epidemic, perhaps because someone was accidentally infected.

For questions about the origin of the virus, he said, “I’m not really sure it’s from the lab. But there is still no adequate investigation “

He said he thought the report was a list. “Grand Slam Home Run” for China What China wants, he said, “is a reasonable doubt that the virus originated in China,” and he said. The report pointed out that it is possible that the virus originated in other Southeast Asian countries or even. In europe

Jesse Bloom, an evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, who has not signed the two major letters, said he saw no evidence in the report that would dismiss the laboratory’s possible role.

“I think the natural origin of the outbreak is completely plausible,” said Dr. Bloom, but added that he agreed with Dr. Tedros said laboratory accident assessments were not comprehensive and that further investigation was required.

In addition to the laboratory, the report outlines several promising directions for future studies, including tracing the pathways of animal or animal products that could bring the virus to market in Wuhan.

Peter Daszak, head of the EcoHealth Alliance, which was previously worked with by a laboratory leak theorist with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said the findings suggest that wildlife farms are the most promising site for. Leaks from animals to people. There are many farms of this type in China and Southeast Asia, and animals in them, such as dogs, raccoons and civets, have contact with bats and people. Testing on thousands of animal and animal samples from China, as well as in seafood and other markets, found no evidence of SARS-COV-2, according to the World Health Organization.

The report also states that both minks and cats have been proven to be susceptible to infection, presumably to be from humans and possibly a reservoir of the virus. Cats have not been shown to be able to transmit the virus to humans, but Chinese mink has a thriving mink industry. But no infection in mink farms has been reported to the WHO.

Dr. Lucie said he cited the lack of information on Chinese mink farms as “The Silence of the Mink.”

According to human studies, the report suggested that blood bank donation blood tests performed from September to December 2019 could be very helpful. The first recorded outbreak occurred in the Huanan market in Wuhan in December 2019.

Marion Koopmans, a Dutch virologist at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, said the WHO mission had asked the Wuhan blood banking system to stop donating blood since that time. She said it agreed, and now the Chinese are seeking permission to take a blood test for antibodies to the virus, which could help determine when the virus first appeared in humans. If extended, that study could also help with location.

Dr. Cumans said she hopes the blood donation study will expand to other provinces and regions outside of China. A possible indication of the presence of the virus before December, ”she said.

She said standardized testing should be done for all regions in question. That, in turn, may point to pockets isolated from the early presence of the virus, testing wildlife in such areas may work.

Dr.Cumans defended the mission of the WHO team, saying it was always aimed at scientific studies in conjunction with Chinese colleagues. If investigation is the goal, she said, “You have to do an investigation or something. But that is not a scientific study. “

That critics agree The most told part of the letter from WHO critics is the composition of the team reviewing the Chinese lab. If the basic rules for the second task are rewritten, the letter states that the WHO should “certify that a broader skill pool is being integrated into an international team of experts, including biosafety and biosecurity experts, biometric data analysts). Biometrics and experienced forensic investigators “

At the end of the report, in discussing what should be done to learn more about the likelihood of a laboratory incident, the report recommends: “Management Audits and Internal Audits of Safety Laboratories. High biological levels worldwide Follow-up of new evidence of potential laboratory leaks “

Metsel said he was more against this and said in the future the review should include U.S. laboratories. But he said the epidemic was the most urgent and he wanted to start immediately with China. Still, he and the other signatories of both letters, he said, are deeply concerned with viral research around the world.

While many virologists and disease specialists want to collect and study the virus as a way to learn more and prepare for more outbreaks, Metsel said he and others want limitations on how to manage the virus. Study more viruses

“It makes sense to create a global regulatory system to proactively oversee the work that has dangerous or life-threatening pathogens everywhere,” he said.

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