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'COVID-26, COVID-32 likely unless we fully understand COVID-19 origins': US experts

'COVID-26, COVID-32 likely unless we fully understand COVID-19 origins': US experts

Not having complete know-how about the origins of the pandemic puts the world at risk of future pandemics, according to the co-director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development Peter Hotez

While the US believes that the COVID-19 pandemic originated from a lab in Wuhan, the WHO said that the virus's origin was not uncovered but a lab leak was not likely While the US believes that the COVID-19 pandemic originated from a lab in Wuhan, the WHO said that the virus's origin was not uncovered but a lab leak was not likely

Xi Jinping-led Chinese government should cooperate with the world to trace the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to prevent future pandemics, said US health experts. Not having complete know-how about the origins of the pandemic puts the world at risk of future pandemics, according to the co-director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development Peter Hotez.

"There's going to be Covid-26 and Covid-32 unless we fully understand the origins of Covid-19," Hotez said on NBC's "Meet the press."

Leads substantiating the claim that SARS-CoV-2 is likely to have escaped a lab in China's Wuhan have increased, said former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration Scott Gottlieb.

"China hasn't provided much evidence to disprove that theory, while the search for signs that the virus emerged from wildlife hasn't yielded results," Gottlieb added.

Also read: What is the origin of SARS-COV-2, the virus that has killed 3.5 mn people till now?

Hotez further added the scientists should be allowed to conduct a long-term investigation in China and collect blood samples from humans and animals. He also stated the US should pressurise China to allow for an inquiry.

Hotez said, "We need a team of scientists, epidemiologists, virologists, and bat ecologists in Hubei province for a six-month, year-long period."

After US President Joe Biden asked the American intelligence agencies to augment their efforts to trace COVID-19 origins, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the investigation into the origins of the pandemic was being 'poisoned by politics'. WHO's top emergency expert Mike Ryan said, "We would like for everyone out there to separate if they can, the politics of this issue from the science. This whole process is being poisoned by politics."

Also read: US intel agencies probe reports of early COVID-19 infections in China's Wuhan lab

While the US believes that the COVID-19 pandemic originated from a lab in Wuhan, the WHO said that the virus's origin was not uncovered but a lab leak was not likely.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian had dismissed Biden administration's inquiry attempts as engaging in 'stigmatisation, political manipulation and blame-shifting.'

The debate around origins of the COVID-19 pandemic was ignited once again as a Wall Street Journal report dated May 23 stated that three researchers from China's Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) were seeking hospital care for symptoms consistent with coronavirus as well as common seasonal illness in November 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic was disclosed.

Also read: 3 researchers from Wuhan lab sought hospital care months before COVID-19 outbreak disclosed

The claim made in the WSJ report is congruent with a US State Department factsheet released near the fag-end of the Trump administration.

This report states, "The US government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses." This report, however, did not specify the number of researchers.

Edited by Mehak Agarwal; with agency inputs

Also read: US intelligence community recognises two theories of coronavirus origin