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(AUSTRALIA) LATEST: Joins the United States and other countries have called for a more in-depth investigation into the #COVID19 pandemic’s origins, after an international mission to China earlier this year proved inconclusive #AceHealthDesk report

#AceHealthReport – May.28: Addressing the World Health Organization’s (WHO) main annual meeting of member states, representatives from several countries stressed the continued need to solve the mystery of how #COVID19 first began spreading among humans.

#CoronavirusNewsDesk – WHO member nations, including Australia, call for fresh probe into origin of #COVID19 after the investgation provide inconclusive after a long-delayed report by the team of international experts sent to Wuhan and their Chinese counterparts drew no firm conclusions on the origins of the #pandemic.

A security person moves journalists away from the Wuhan Institute of Virology
Determining the origin of the virus is seen as vital to preventing future pandemics.(AP: Ng Han Guan)

“We underscore the importance of a robust comprehensive and expert-led inquiry into the origins of COVID-19,” US representative Jeremy Konyndyk told the World Health Assembly (WHA).

The European Union, Australia and Japan were among others to call for more progress on the investigation, while the British representative urged that any probe be “timely, expert-driven and grounded in robust science”.

Play Video. Duration: 34 seconds
The WHO team visits a major virus research laboratory in Wuhan.

Determining how the virus that causes COVID-19 began spreading is seen as vital to preventing future pandemics.

Instead, they ranked a number of hypotheses according to how likely they believed they were.

The report said the virus jumping from bats to humans via an intermediate animal was the most probable scenario, while it said a theory involving the virus leaking from a laboratory was “extremely unlikely”.

After the report was released, however, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus insisted all theories remained on the table.

Purpose ‘not to assign blame’

The investigation and report have also faced criticism for lacking transparency and access, and for not evaluating the lab-leak theory more deeply.

China has always flatly rejected that theory, which was widely shared in the US during the tenure of former president Donald Trump.

While not suggesting that a lab leak was necessarily the source, a number of prominent international scientists have said a deeper, more scientific look at the theory was needed.

There have been complaints that the very terms of the investigation, negotiated with Beijing and approved at last year’s WHA, said the task was to identify the “zoonotic” — or animal — source of the virus.

There had been calls for the ongoing WHA to decide the next stages in the probe, and to redefine its focus.

US Secretary of Health Xavier Becerra backed the call for new terms of reference.

“Phase two of the COVID origins study must be launched with terms of reference that are transparent, science based, and give international experts the independence to fully assess the source of the virus and the early days of the outbreak,” he told the assembly.

But amid diplomatic sensitivities, their agenda contains no resolutions on the way forward.

“The purpose of the inquiry is not to assign blame, but to be grounded in science, to find the origin of the virus and the outbreaks, and to help us all prevent future global catastrophes from happening,” Mr Konyndyk said. 

AFP/ABC/

#AceHealthDesk report ……Published: May.28: 2021:

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