Experts Urge Science-based COVID-19 Origin Tracing
By LI Hongce, ZHANG Hao, DONG Yingbi, WANG Xiaoxia
Editors: FENG Weidong, FANG Linlin
Virus origin tracing is a scientific issue that should be carried out through scientific measures and should not be manipulated by politics, and future origin tracing studies should be conducted on the basis of the first phase results, according to experts from several countries during recent interviews with Science and Technology Daily.
Fully respect the first phase results
Future COVID-19 origin tracing studies need to take into account the results of the first phase of the World Health Organization (WHO) origin tracing research, and should not be repeatedly investigating those results in the short term, a French scientist has told Science and Technology Daily.
Dominique Bertrand, President of the French National Commission of Public Health, said that the report of the WHO's first phase origin tracing should be fully respected, and repeated origin tracing within a short period of time should not be done since the first report contained sufficient objective facts.
Alexander Semyonov, the head of the branch of the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology "Vector" in Yekaterinburg of Russia, told Science and Technology Daily that coronavirus is not a virus that can be embedded in the human genome and is constantly mutating towards increasing infectivity. Each variant is more infectious and aggressive than the previous ones, which is the law of natural selection instead of man-made.
The reporter of Science and Technology Daily also interviewed Victor Dosenko, a member of the group and head of the general and molecular pathophysiology department at the Ukraine National Academy of Sciences.
Dosenko said that current questions about the COVID-19 origin have been basically cleared. The origin of COVID-19, of course, is proximal. This has been demonstrated in a number of studies on nucleotide sequence analysis of COVID-19 and other coronaviruses. But whether the first COVID-19 case emerged in China is uncertain, said the expert.
The origin of the novel coronavirus was still unknown, and there could be a natural host, said Bertrand.
All countries and regions should examine storable samples, complete the retrospective detection and genomic sequencing of the virus, and then share the results, Bertrand said.
Not to politicize COVID-19 origin tracing
Western countries such as the United States, ignoring the scientific findings of joint research carried out by WHO and China, repeatedly used political measures to interfere with COVID-19 origin tracing, a scientific matter, is it rational?
Geopolitics has usurped science since the outbreak of COVID-19. The West was trying to distract people from its poor performance and tarnish China’s reputation, said Martin Jacques, former Senior Fellow at Cambridge University.
Scientists tell people the truth, but not everyone is ready to accept it. However, politicians always say something much easier for ordinary people to understand, said Dosenko. Politics is about theory and practice in public governance and plays a vital role in the global fight against the pandemic, but it should not put impact on scientists to draw conclusions.
In addition, over 300 political parties, social societies and think tanks in over 100 countries and districts submitted a joint statement to the WHO Secretariat, standing resolutely against politicizing virus origin-tracing issue.
Global cooperation is the only way out
The experts stressed the importance of international cooperation in the virus origin tracing work as solidarity across the world was urged at the time of the global pandemic of COVID-19.
The origin tracing work conducted by experts from multiple countries under the leadership of the WHO would contribute to the global fight against COVID-19 pandemic, said Bertrand.
Dosenko stressed that in this global pandemic, all countries must spare no efforts to help each other. Scientists from different countries have made a lot of achievements, and will continue to work together in the future.
Chen Xin, a member of the French National Commission of Public Health, said that countries should focus on the prevention and control of the pandemic, and work together to avoid constricting global medical resources.
In the face of major crises, no single country can remain insulated and intact as we are living in in a community with a shared future. Relevant countries should shoulder responsibilities, respect science and enhance international cooperation in virus origin-tracing.
Viruses know no border or race. The only way for the international community to defeat them is to work together, as said the joint statement sent to WHO.