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.