WHO names 26 scientists to new panel on pathogen origins

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The World Health Organization on Oct. 14 named 26 scientists from around the globe to serve on its new Scientific Advisory Group for the Origins of Novel Pathogens. 

The group will advise the organization on "the development of a global framework to define and guide studies into the origins of emerging and re-emerging pathogens of epidemic and pandemic potential," according to a news release. 

Among the advisory group's first tasks is to lead the revived probe into the origins of the COVID-19 virus. The team will specifically examine the hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2 could have emerged from a lab after findings from an earlier report, based on a WHO-led visit to Wuhan, China, were inconclusive. 

Inger Damon, MD, PhD, director of the Centers for Disease Control's division of high-consequence pathogens and pathology, who oversaw the nation's Ebola response, along with scientists from 25 other nations were selected, The New York Times reports. 

The members were selected from more than 700 applicants. The group's expertise spans a range of areas, including epidemiology, virology, animal health, ecology, biosafety and clinical medicine. 

As is customary with all new WHO advisory groups, there will be a two-week public comment period before the committee is finalized and can begin meeting.


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