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WHO Report Calls for Further Studies and More Data on Origin of SARS-Cov-2 Virus; Report Reiterates That All Hypotheses Remain Open; Mystery of Virus Origin Unsolved and Controversy Swirls Over Possible Chinese Bias in WHO-Organized Investigation

The report of the international team on its Wuhan, China field visit, from 14 January 14 to February 10, 2021, was published today (March 30, 2021) (https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus/origins-of-the-virus), 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 Member States today, Dr. Tedros, who received the full report on the weekend, thanked the team for its 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 WHO report is available on this webpage: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus/origins-of-the-virus. At the following link is the full text of the Director-General’s remarks today: https://www.who.int/director-general/speeches/detail/who-director-genera....

The team of investigating scientists came from around the world: Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, Qatar, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Vietnam.

The joint international team comprised 17 Chinese and 17 international experts from 10 other countries, as well as from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE); and WHO.

You may find the list of the members of the international team here (https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus/origins-of-the-virus).

CONTROVERSY OVER WHO-ORGANIZED STUDY

Numerous popular press articles have been posted on the results of the just-released WHO-organized study (see below), and there is much controversy over the adequacy of the investigation and questions as to the possible partiality on the part of the Chinese experts on the WHO investigation team.

Professional criticism of the WHO-organized study was voiced prior to release of the official report today.

OPEN LETTER TO WALL STREET JOURNAL FROM 26 PROMINENT SCIENTISTS CRITICIZES WHO-ORGANIZED STUDY

In a March 4, 2021 open letter to the Wall Street Journal (https://s.wsj.net/public/resources/documents/COVID%20OPEN%20LETTER%20FINAL%20030421%20(1).pdf), a group of 26 prominent scientists questioned the adequacy of the yet-to-be-published WHO study and called for a new international inquiry into the origins of the virus. The signatories to the letter said that the WHO team had insufficient access to adequately investigate possible sources of the new coronavirus, including whether it had escaped from a laboratory.

The open letter was titled “Call for a Full and Unrestricted International Forensic Investigation into the Origins of COVID-19.”

In the open letter, the signatories stated the following:

“In particular, we wish to raise public awareness of the fact that half of the joint team convened under that process is made of Chinese citizens whose scientific independence may be limited, that international members of the joint team had to rely on information the Chinese authorities chose to share with them, and that any joint team report must be approved by both the Chinese and international members of the joint team.”

“We have therefore reached the conclusion that the joint team did not have the mandate, the independence, or the necessary accesses to carry out a full and unrestricted investigation into all the relevant SARS-CoV-2 origin hypotheses--whether natural spillover or laboratory/research-related incident.”

“We are also concerned that the joint team’s work has been inaccurately reported by the media as an independent investigation whose conclusions reflect those of the WHO. The February 9, 2021 Wuhan joint press conference was a good example of this misunderstanding. Although the findings were those of the joint team, they were widely reported as representing the WHO itself.”

“As strong supporters of the WHO and its mission, we believe it must be made clear that any findings of the joint committee, while potentially useful to a limited extent, represent neither the official position of the WHO nor the result of an unrestricted, independent investigation. For this reason, we believe it is essential that the contours of a full and unrestricted investigation be outlined to set a standard against which current and future efforts can be evaluated.”

The signatories went on to describe these contours in detail in their open letter.

A March 5, 2021 Wall Street Journal article commenting on the open letter can be found at this link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/who-investigators-to-scrap-interim-report-o....

ONE SIGNATORY EARLIER EXPRESSED CONCERNS OVER POSSIBLE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST IN INVESTIGATION AND PRESENTED ELABORATE STATISTICAL ANALYSIS SUPPORTING LABORATORY ORIGIN OF SARS-COV-2

One of the open letter signatories was Stephen Quay, MD, PhD, CEO of Atossa Therapeutics, Inc., and former Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine. Earlier, on January 29, 2021, Dr. Quay had published an article entitled "A Bayesian Analysis Concludes Beyond a Reasonable Doubt That SARS-Cov-2 Is Not a Natural Zoonosis But Instead Is Laboratory Derived." The 193-page paper can be downloaded from Zenodo, a general-purpose open-access repository operated by CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research), here: https://zenodo.org/record/4477081#. A short “explainer” video about the paper is here: https://zenodo.org/record/4477212#. The purpose of the analysis was to determine the origin of SARS-CoV-2. Beginning with a likelihood of 98.2% that it was a zoonotic jump from nature with only a 1.2% probability it was a laboratory escape, twenty-six different, independent facts and evidence concerning the virus were examined systematically. These included the three key pro-zoonotic papers published early on in the pandemic, the lack of posterior genetic diversity in SARS-CoV-2, the lack of a furin cleavage site in any of the ~1,000 other corona viruses in the same subgenera as SARS-CoV-2 (the Spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 must be cleaved by the host furin enzyme to gain entry to the human cell), and a canvas of 410 animals showing that humans and primates are the best and bats are the worst for ACE2-Spike protein interaction. The final conclusion of the Dr. Quay’s Bayesian statistical analysis was that there is a 99.8% probability SARS-CoV-2 came from a laboratory and only a 0.2% likelihood it came from nature.

At the time, Dr. Quay said, "Like many others, I am concerned about what appear to be significant conflicts of interest between members of the WHO team and scientists and doctors in China and how much this will impede an unbiased examination of the origin of SARS-CoV-2," said Dr. Quay.

"By taking only publicly available, scientific evidence about SARS-CoV-2 and using highly conservative estimates in my analysis, I nonetheless conclude that it is beyond a reasonable doubt that SARS-CoV-2 escaped from a laboratory. The additional evidence of what appears to be adenovirus vaccine genetic sequences in specimens from five COVID-19 patients from December 2019 and sequenced by the Wuhan Institute of Virology requires an explanation. You would see this kind of data in a vaccine challenge trial, for example. Hopefully, the WHO team can get answers to these questions."

FORMER CDC DIRECTOR BELIEVES VIRUS ESCAPED FROM LAB

It should also be noted in this context that former CDC Director, virologist Robert Redfield, PhD, recently told CNN that his over-40-years of experience in virology led him to believe that the SARS-CoV-2 virus most likely originated from escape from a laboratory in China (https://www.cnn.com/videos/health/2021/03/26/sanjay-gupta-exclusive-robe...).

[WHO news release] [WHO report] [Open letter to Wall Street Journal] [WSJ article on open letter] [Dr. Quay Xenodo publication] [Dr. Quay Xenodo video] [Dr. Redfield comments (CNN)]

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