The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday said it will form a new advisory group to study the origins of novel pathogens, including the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which caused the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The new team, named Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO), will be tasked with advising the WHO on investigations into pathogens that might trigger the next pandemic, as well as study the origin of the CCP virus, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in 2019.
The WHO proposed 26 members whose expertise cover a wide range of areas, from epidemiology to genomics to molecular biology. Dr. Inger Damon, the director of the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the only American on the panel.
Also among the proposed SAGO members is Dr. Yang Yungui, the deputy director at the Beijing Institute of Genomics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He was one of the experts who represented the CCP-controlled Chinese scientific community to work with a WHO mission to Wuhan earlier this year.
The WHO mission, which sought to find out whether the CCP virus was leaked from a laboratory or emerged naturally, ended up saying in its final report that the lab leak origin theory appeared to be “the least likely hypothesis.”
“The joint expert group has reached the consensus that further follow-up studies should be conducted on the analysis of suspected cases of the new coronavirus in patient and environmental samples from around the world reported before the end of January 2020,” Yang said in April at a press conference, according to CCP propaganda agency CGTN. Most of Yang’s colleagues at that conference argued that the WHO should direct its investigative effort away from China, parroting a conspiracy theory that the CCP virus was imported into Wuhan from elsewhere.
The proposed SAGO membership is currently undergoing a two-week public comment period and will be finalized later this month, the WHO said.
“The emergence of new viruses with the potential to spark epidemics and pandemics is a fact of nature, and while SARS-CoV-2 is the latest such virus, it will not be the last,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press release.
“Understanding where new pathogens come from is essential for preventing future outbreaks with epidemic and pandemic potential, and requires a broad range of expertise. We are very pleased with the calibre of experts selected for SAGO from around the world, and look forward to working with them to make the world safer,” he added.