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WHO puts forward panel of experts to track pandemic origins

The World Health Organization (WHO) has chosen the members of a new advisory board into the origins of pandemics.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has chosen the members of a new advisory board into the origins of pandemics.

The board will help draw up guidelines for future studies on the origins of pandemics and epidemics and oversee investigations, the WHO reported in Geneva on Wednesday.

In total, 26 experts were put forward by the WHO for its Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens (SAGO), including scientists from China, Russia, the United States, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Cambodia.

German virologist Christian Drosten from Berlin’s Charite hospital, who has been one of the most visible experts on German media during the pandemic, is one of the names on the list.

Political considerations played no role in the selection, WHO Emergency Relief Coordinator Mike Ryan said.

Member countries have until the end of October to comment on the list.

The advisory board is a response to the long delay to an international investigation into the origin of the coronavirus.

The virus first surfaced in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, but the foreign experts proposed by the WHO were not allowed to travel to China until more than 12 months later.

China does not want to allow further investigation on the ground. The US government accuses China of withholding information from the experts.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday that “understanding where new pathogens come from is essential for preventing future outbreaks with epidemic and pandemic potential.”

“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 said.

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