The World Health Organization (WHO) creates a new body in order to be better prepared for future pandemics. The body will also be responsible for summarizing the results of worldwide research into the origins of the coronavirus epidemic.
The new WHO organization will be called the Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO). The main task of the panel will be to develop a strategy on how to deal with future pandemics, and to this end, the origins of the coronavirus will be re-examined.
The 26-member panel will be open to researchers from many countries, including experts from China. To the board a According to the WHO more than 700 have already applied from various health disciplines, from which final membership will be selected.
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO epidemiological expert about the new professional panel, he said that creating it “means a real chance to finally get rid of the politics and fuss that surrounds the origins of the coronavirus and finally find out all that we haven’t been able to figure out so far”.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreesus also noted that SAGO would be given an important role.
The emergence of new viruses carries the potential for pandemic outbreaks […]. The coronavirus was the last such virus, but it certainly won’t be the last.
Gebreesus said, adding that if they understand where the new pathogens come from, they can provide a more effective response to future epidemics.
Earlier, it was suggested that WHO experts would return to China for another investigation, but the Beijing government refused in July. The Chinese government has not yet commented on the creation of the new group, but Tedros Adhanom Gebreesus has now said they still want to gain insight into Chinese labs.
The WHO is expected to finalize the membership of the panel in the next two weeks and prepare for the first meeting of the panel, which may take place soon after.
(Cover image: Department of Coronavirus Infection at the Bellaria Hospital in Bologna, Italy, April 20, 2020. Photo: Michele Lapini / Getty Images)