Virologist Marion Koopmans says the trip may be helpful in gathering additional information about the origins of COVID-19.
A leading scientist from the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 mission in China has said that a follow-up trip may be helpful in gathering additional research on the origins of the disease, but that it should be separated from any audit. of the information provided by Beijing.
Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans’ comments came on Tuesday after the United States called for international experts to be allowed to assess the source of the coronavirus and the first days of the outbreak, in a second phase of WHO research on the origins of the coronavirus. .
Koopmans was part of the WHO-led team that spent four weeks in China earlier this year and in March released a report along with Chinese scientists saying the virus had probably been transmitted from bats. to humans through another animal.
“Introduction through a laboratory incident was considered an extremely unlikely route,” his report said.
Debates over the outbreak gained new attention this week as U.S. intelligence agencies examined reports that researchers at a Chinese virology lab in Wuhan were seriously ill in 2019 a month before they were reported. the first cases of COVID-19.
U.S. government sources have said there is still no evidence that the disease originated in the lab.
US urges transparency
Andy Slavitt, a White House coronavirus adviser, said Monday that WHO and China must do more to provide definitive answers to the global community.
“We need a fully transparent process from China,” Slavitt said at the coronavirus working group briefing. WHO’s full assistance is needed and “we don’t have it now”.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top American responsible for infectious diseases, said “many of us” feel that COVID-19 was a natural fact, but “we don’t know 100% of it” and it is imperative to investigate.
Koopmans said the team would be willing to conduct additional investigations in China in various areas and looked forward to the outcome of the WHO discussions.
He stressed the need for a clear mandate to conduct investigations, not to conduct an audit.
“I do not think they can be combined. So we think it’s a combination that won’t work. In that case, you say we will do an inspection or we will do the follow-up investigation, or both, but through different mechanisms, otherwise you just won’t move forward, ”he said.