WHO mission  back with info on how the  pandemic began

Published February 25, 2021, 7:48 AM

by Manila Bulletin

Ten international experts – epidemiologists, animal and human disease experts,  medical doctors and virologists – from ten countries,  joined five World Health Organization (WHO) experts, two representatives of  the Food and Agriculture  Organization (FAO) and two from the World Health Organization for Animal Health in  the recent WHO mission to look into  the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, China.

The WHO  mission  represented  the concern of the 194 member states of  the  United Nations to get to the genesis of the COVID-19 virus, get more information about the  disease  to help in eliminating  it and in responding to future pandemics.

At the end of the mission, the WHO group said:  (1) it  was “extremely unlikely” that the virus had leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology; (2) bats remain a likely source; (3) transmission of the virus via frozen food is a possibility that warrants further investigation; and (4) there is “need to ensure we  are looking beyond the borders  of China as well as within China.”

The 40-page “Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019”  provided an analysis and recommendations expected to further advance mankind’s knowledge and  capabilities  in future epidemiological crises with early detection  and mitigation measures.

The WHO team leaders made a point of dispelling  aspersions on China  cast in some early media reports.  British expert on disease ecology Dr.  Peter Daszak said: “As lead  of  the animal/environment working group, I found trust and openness  with my China counterparts. We got access to critical new data  throughout.”

China was the first country to investigate the virus when it was thought  to be  ordinary flu, providing the world with the virus’  genetic data in early January, 2020, and the series of lockdowns that followed in China  It subsequently made four  proposals for fighting the pandemic, as follows: cooperation in the fight against COVID-19, full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions and creation of a favorable environment for fighting the pandemic, solving the vaccine deficit and increasing assistance to developing countries, and giving full play to the role of the United Nations system.

More than a year after the COVID-19 virus emerged in China,  the world is now  moving to  face new challenges, notably the need for more effective vaccines. The world continues to be tested by the pandemic, this time with  challenges in vaccine supply – in the face of high costs and inadequacy of supply.

The WHO mission to China has returned  with  information about the beginnings of the virus. The need  now is for greater cooperation  among nations to reach more of the world’s billions of people in urgent need of the vaccines to stop the pandemic.