In May 2020, the World Health Assembly in resolution WHA73.1 requested the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) to continue to work closely with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and countries, as part of the One Health approach, to identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population, including the possible role of intermediate hosts. The aim is to prevent both reinfections with the virus in animals and humans and the establishment of new zoonotic reservoirs, thereby reducing further risks of the emergence and transmission of zoonotic diseases.
The report of the international team on their Wuhan field visit, from 14 January -10 February 2021, was published today as WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for further studies.
The report stems from a Member State resolution adopted by consensus at the World Health Assembly in May 2020 and calling on WHO “to identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population, including the possible role of intermediate hosts, including through efforts such as scientific and collaborative field missions.”
In remarks to the Member States today, Dr. Tedros, who received the full report on the weekend, thanked the team for their tireless work. He said it advances our understanding in important ways while raising questions that will need to be addressed by further studies, as noted in the report. “As far as WHO is concerned, all hypotheses remain on the table. This report is a very important beginning, but it is not the end. We have not yet found the source of the virus, and we must continue to follow the science and leave no stone unturned as we do,” said Dr. Tedros. “Finding the origin of a virus takes time and we owe it to the world to find the source so we can collectively take steps to reduce the risk of this happening again. No single research trip can provide all the answers.”
The report is available to download:
WHO-convened Global Study of Origins of SARS-CoV-2: China Part (Joint Report)