The United States has joined calls for a more thorough and transparent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, after an international investigation in China earlier this year yielded few firm conclusions.
Speaking at the World Health Organization’s annual summit for member states in Geneva on Tuesday, representatives from the United States and several other countries stressed the importance of identifying how Covid-19 began to spread. spread.
“We stress the importance of a thorough, expert-led investigation into the origins of Covid-19, which is essential to ensure that we are prepared to successfully mitigate and respond to future outbreaks and prevent future pandemics” said U.S. Representative Jeremy Konyndyk. the World Health Assembly, calling for “independent, expert-led, science-based origin analysis”.
The UK, European Union, Australia and Japan were among other countries calling for more progress on the WHO investigation.
A team of international experts sent in January to Wuhan, the original epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak, reported that the virus was likely transferred to humans by bats via an animal intermediary. They also argued that a theory involving the virus leaking from a lab was “extremely unlikely,” citing a lack of infected lab workers before the first cases of Covid-19 were reported in December 2019.
But a new US intelligence report who discovered diseases in a Chinese virology lab a month earlier has raised new questions about the origin of Covid-19.
China has long rejected the theory of laboratory leaks, often touted by former US President Donald Trump. And while WHO member countries are not suggesting that a lab leak was the source of the virus, many want the next steps in the investigation to dig deeper into the source of the virus.
Their calls come after a number of prominent international scientists, including Anthony Fauci, suggested that a more scientific look at the theory was needed. Speaking at a fact-checking symposium on May 11, America’s top infectious disease expert said he was no longer convinced that the pandemic was born naturally and that the international community should “continue to investigate on what was happening in China ”.
Despite many requests for a more in-depth second phase of the study into the origins of Covid, the same diplomatic sensitivities that have hampered WHO’s efforts in the past could reduce any firm commitment to the way forward.
“The purpose of the investigation is not to assign blame, but to be based on science, to find the origin of the virus and epidemics, and to help us all prevent future global disasters from unfolding. produce, ”Konyndyk said.
YOU ASKED. WE HAVE ANSWER.
Q: Why are scientists suddenly more interested in the laboratory leak theory of the origin of Covid?
A: A US intelligence report that several workers at the Chinese Institute of Virology in Wuhan were hospitalized in November 2019 sparked further debate about the origin of the virus in the lab. However, officials believe it won’t be possible to find out exactly what happened until China opens up to a full international investigation, which it has so far been unwilling to do. . The director of the Wuhan laboratory told Chinese state media that the report was “a complete lie.”
Jamie Metzl, a WHO adviser, said on Tuesday there was growing evidence of a lab leak and that it could have happened as scientists “push, push and study” viruses with the good intention of developing vaccines. “
“Then I think what maybe happened was there was an accidental leak followed by a criminal cover-up,” added Metzl, who served in the US State Department under the Clinton administration and who is a senior researcher at the Atlantic Council.
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WHAT IS IMPORTANT TODAY
50% of American adults are now vaccinated
The United States is taking important milestones in the Covid-19 vaccination, but health experts say those who are not vaccinated should not rely on the protection of those who are because their risk of infection is low. ‘did not decrease in response to the drop in cases, Madeline Holcomb written.
“The work ahead is going to be really tough because, although fully vaccinated people are well protected, we must continue to convince people who are not yet vaccinated that they are not safe,” says Dr Leana, CNN medical analyst. Wen told Wolf Blitzer. “The pandemic is not over for them.”
The risk to unvaccinated people is actually about the same as it was in the midst of the January wave, Wen said, citing a Washington Post analysis.
Half of the adult population in the United States is fully vaccinated, according to data released Tuesday by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And for those people, the upcoming Memorial Day weekend – an event identified as a major source of spread last year – may look a lot like what it was before 2020.
Why schools are on the alert for new variants of the coronavirus
As new variants of the coronavirus appear around the world, public health experts are examining a key group of people who may be particularly vulnerable to future outbreaks: school children.
There is no indication that any of the newer variants of Covid-19 causes more serious illness in children and it remains extremely rare for them to become seriously ill. But outbreaks of the strain of the virus first discovered in India among British children have raised concerns that the variant is spreading in schools. Outbreaks in the UK are still relatively small, but they serve as a warning to countries around the world returning to in-person education, Ivana Kottasová written.
As more schools reopen and new variations become dominant, outbreaks among young students can become inevitable. Children are currently excluded from immunization programs in most countries of the world. Even in the United States, one of the few countries that currently vaccinates young people, children under 12 are not eligible for the vaccine.
World’s largest vaccine manufacturer stagnates on exports
As India’s coronavirus crisis escalates, the Serum Institute of India (SII) – the world’s largest vaccine maker – announced last week that it could no longer export its products. The SII has said it will not resume deliveries to COVAX, a global initiative to distribute vaccines to countries regardless of wealth, until the end of this year.
While SII’s decision will be a lifeline for India, which still reports around 200,000 new cases a day, the delay poses a huge problem for developing countries that depend on COVAX to control their own epidemics.
The world is already short of 140 million doses – and by the end of June that gap will have reached 190 million doses, said last week the United Nations Children’s Agency, one of the partners of COVAX. There is currently no deadline to resolve the shortage, UNICEF said. This creates a very real problem, not only for countries with limited access to vaccines where cases are skyrocketing, but also for the whole world, Julia hollingsworth written.
ON OUR RADAR
- the White House is teaming up with Snapchat in the latest appeal attempt to persuade young Americans to get vaccinated.
- Japan’s national newspaper Asahi Shimbun, official partner of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, called for the cancellation of the upcoming event in an editorial published on Wednesday.
- Dominic cummings, who served as prime minister Boris Johnson’s senior adviser at the height of the pandemic, said the UK government’s response to the crisis had been “disastrously short”.
- Concerns about a ‘black fungus’ infecting some patients with Covid-19 continue to rise in India as cases of the life-threatening disease reach 10,000, the junior minister responsible for chemicals and fertilizers said Tuesday.
- Child labor in some of the world’s poorest countries has increased during the pandemic, according to a new Human Rights Watch report, which documented unsafe working conditions, violence and harassment.
How to navigate relationship arguments in the “ new normal ”
Increasingly, struggling couples are turning to licensed marriage therapist Ian Kerner in an even more exacerbated state, lashing out at each other, bottling up their emotions, or turning to sarcasm or passive aggression. It is natural to fight sometimes in our intimate relationships, and for some, the pandemic has exacerbated existing tensions. As much as we love each other, we are on top of each other and exposed to more stress, he says.