The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that a new working group could be the last chance to find the origins of covid-19.
The organization nominated 26 experts to join the team, the Scientific Advisory Group on the Origins of New Pathogens (Sago).
More than a year and a half since the virus was detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the question of how it first arose remains unanswered.
The team will investigate whether the virus passed from animals to humans in Wuhan markets or was leaked in a laboratory accident.
China has strongly rejected the second theory.
In February, a WHO team tasked with investigating the origins of the covid traveled to China and concluded that the virus it probably arose from bats, but more research was needed.
But the director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, later said that the investigation had been hampered by a lack of data and transparency from China.
Prevent future outbreaks
The proposed members of the Sago group include six experts who visited China as part of the previous team.
Apart from the coronavirus, Sago also investigate the origins of other high-risk pathogens.
“Understanding where new pathogens are coming from is essential to preventing future outbreaks,” Tedros said.
In a joint publication in the magazine Science, Tedros and other WHO authorities said “a laboratory accident cannot be ruled out.”
Michael Ryan, WHO emergency director, said Sago’s work may be the “last chance to understand the origins of this virus.”
The announcement of the new group comes as news network CNN reported that China was preparing to analyze tens of thousands of blood bank samples taken in the first months of the pandemic.
But Chen Xu, China’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said Sago’s work it should not be “politicized”.
“It is time to send teams to other places,” he said.
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