Consisting of experts from a variety of fields, including laboratory safety, biosecurity and geneticists, as well as animal disease specialists, the aim according to a report by the Wall Street Journal will be to determine how humans became infected. The COVID-19 pandemic, which to date has killed over 4.7 million people is believed to have originated from the Wuhan Institute for Virology, WIV.
China denies all allegations that the virus was man made, and leaked from the facility.
Beijing has demanded that the WHO investigates whether the virus had in fact originated from other countries, including the USA.
The investigation has come about following an order from US President, Joe Biden, asking intelligence agencies to investigate a lab-leak theory.
Former US President, Donald Trump claimed intelligence reports emerging several months before the outbreak stated that body bags were seen en-mass piled up outside the WIV.
Previous reports also suggest that the plan was to receive US funding into a project that would leak the virus into a local bat population in Wuhan.
The project never received the funding, yet rumours suggest the virus may have been spread as planned in order to boost virus immunology between animals and humans.
China has refused to comment on the new investigation, and it is not apparent as yet whether the Chinese will allow a new investigative team into the country.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it has ‘co-operated fully’ with the previous investigation, a point that has been widely disputed by the former WHO team.
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Beijing is also likely to insist that some of its own scientists join the potential team, a move that is likely to face resistance from Washington, which belief doing so could undermine the integrity and independence of the new research.
In a statement to the United Nations General Assembly, President Xi Jinping said: “China will continue to support and engage in global science-based origins tracing, and stands firmly opposed to political manoeuvring in whatever form.”
China fears that the WHO has regained the confidence of the USA following the departure of former President Donald Trump, who accused the international body as being too aligned to China.
With over 219 million global cases, and only 33 percent of the world population being fully vaccinated with both doses, a lot remains to be done to bring an end to the pandemic.
The United States, Japan, India and Australia, also known as the Quad-Countries have pledged to deliver a further 1.2 billion COVID-19 vaccines to less privileged regions.
In a joint statement following the pledge, the Quad-Countries said: “In line with our March announcement, and recognising the continuing global supply gap, we will ensure this expanded manufacturing is exported for the Indo-Pacific and the world, and we will coordinate key multilateral initiatives.”
For now, the origins of the virus are still to be determined beyond reasonable doubt, and the challenges faced with the pandemic remain.