“The World Health Organization (WHO) has quietly shelved the second phase of its much-anticipated scientific investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, citing ongoing challenges over attempts to conduct crucial studies in China.” [Source: nature.com]
Having previously admitted that a deeper probe was required in order to find out whether a laboratory accident was to blame for the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO now appears to be backtracking and blaming difficulties in conducting the necessary studies in China.
The work involved was supposedly to have included examining bats in regions bordering China for viruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2; experiments to determine which specific animals are susceptible to the virus and could potentially have been its hosts; and testing samples of blood and wastewater that were collected around the world during late 2019 and early 2020. Completing these investigations is seen as essential towards determining the pandemic’s origins.
Predictably, of course, the WHO is denying that the necessary work has been abandoned. Nevertheless, Maria Van Kerkhove, one of its infectious disease experts, has asserted in the Nature scientific journal that the work would not be going ahead. If she is correct, the question as to whether the virus originated on a Wuhan market stall or in a laboratory might never be definitively resolved. This would risk public trust in the WHO and its officials – which is already low – being still further eroded.
To read more about the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and whether it emerged naturally or escaped from a laboratory, see this article on our website.