Global Task Force to Investigate Origins of COVID-19 Pandemic to “Ensure History Does Not Repeat”

Bat Cub

Some evidence suggests SARS-CoV-2 originated in bats.

International taskforce announced to look into origins of SARS-CoV-2, which sparked COVID-19 pandemic nearly one year ago. Named to taskforce is scientific director of Duke-NUS’ ABSL3 facility, which provided early advantage to Singapore by quickly isolating, characterizing SARS-CoV-2, enabling swift development of diagnostic tests, evaluation of potential treatments.

Nearly a year since the world first learned of the novel coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19, many questions remain about SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind this pandemic: Where did it come from, how did it spread so widely and rapidly, and how can we stop similar outbreaks in the future?

Recently, EcoHealth Alliance, a global nonprofit working at the intersection of animal, environmental and human health, announced the establishment of an international task force to investigate these questions as part of The Lancet COVID-19 Commission. Dr. Danielle Anderson, scientific director of Duke-NUS Medical School’s Animal Biosafety Level 3 (ABSL3) research facility in Singapore, is among the taskforce’s 12 members, who hail from a diverse set of scientific disciplines and backgrounds, with expertise in One Health, outbreak investigation, virology, lab biosecurity, and disease ecology.

“This is an important investigation not only to understand the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, but to ensure history does not repeat,” said Dr. Anderson, who is also an assistant professor in Duke-NUS’ Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme. “As a virologist who has worked in high-biosecurity containment labs worldwide, I look forward to bringing my experience and expertise to bear in the search for answers.”

The Duke-NUS ABSL3 facility and its expert scientific staff have been central in the response to COVID-19 in Singapore. In fact, Dr. Anderson played a key role in the early isolation of the virus (making Singapore the third country in the world to do so) and subsequent work to develop a serological test that can specifically detect antibodies able to neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

“Understanding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic is critical for developing preventive measures for the future,” said Professor Thomas Coffman, dean of Duke-NUS Medical School. “We are pleased that Dr. Anderson will be representing Duke-NUS and Singapore on this taskforce, and we are fully committed to supporting its important work.”

The task force is led by Dr. Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, and chaired by Dr. Jeffrey D. Sachs, professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University

“We intend to conduct a thorough and rigorous investigation into the origins and early spread of SARS-CoV-2,” said Dr. Daszak, a disease ecologist who has spent years studying coronavirus transmission in China and Southeast Asia. “Our group will use the findings to formulate One Health solutions for managing future zoonotic disease risk.”

In its investigation, the task force will recreate a complete timeline of the outbreak of COVID-19, starting from the discovery of RaTG13—the closest known viral relative of SARS-CoV-2—in 2013 and up to the WHO’s declaration of COVID-19 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020. They will analyze the available evidence for each of the hypotheses put forward on the origins of COVID-19, and compare its early spread and outbreak control to previous outbreaks to identify strategies that might assist future pandemic prevention.

“There is a great deal of interest in understanding how COVID-19 emerged and spread, but there is a deeper reason for this taskforce’s work,” Dr. Sachs, The Lancet COVID-19 Commission chair, said. “If we can understand why this pandemic began, we can design solutions to prevent the next one.”

More information on The Lancet COVID-19 Commission and this taskforce can be found at covid19commission.org/origins-of-the-pandemic.

5 Comments on "Global Task Force to Investigate Origins of COVID-19 Pandemic to “Ensure History Does Not Repeat”"

  1. REBEL’S DAILY REPORTS
    As the world’s minds search for that darn long gone dog who ate the garbage of some bat exam shop in China that contained the bat that was eaten by the dog and got sick from that garbage bat and then that darn dog got eaten by a human who got sick and who then wondered shopping in a food market where that person spread their coronavirus to the world! Hmm. Question of MAJOR CONCERN! Why is anyone fooling around with bats in a country like China that has questionable regards for anything bit does? Why are we still supporting by buying all their low cost junk after all that China has done to the world with their pollution that makes the stuff that we buy? And now all the world has to deal with a coronavirus problem created in China! Again, Why are you buying stuff made in China when stuff that is made in China is destroying your economy and world environment?

    • Blah blah blah, if weren’t for the slave labor in china the world would be a worst place, poor people that don’t have good conditions but someone needs to be the underdog (at least in the past where automation wasn’t a thing). It’s funny how people blame countries, you should blame the regime not the people that just survives. This virus could have happen in many other places on earth, in fact the vast majority of epidemic diseases originated in other places. The problem with china is the ambition and power of their regime, they had the resources to prevent this if they invested in their people (education, health care…) and by following bio security measures like the ones in EU, this is why you should be mad.

  2. Sekar Vedaraman | November 30, 2020 at 12:00 pm | Reply

    Pandemics and viruses, pathogens, and bacteria are agnostic in nature, and impacts All of Humanity and All of Gods creatures, regardless of whether you are a Billionaire or a poor beggar living a hand to mouth existence (for Humans)!

    The Profit motive drives human behaviour . However, without this being available and other non-monetary incentives — which drive human behaviour, the actual availability of such drugs and cures in future pandemics is likely to be dampened and innovation will also be impacted and slowdown. However, without assuring Public Health on a Global basis, we can rest asuured that we will only be bailing out a leaking boat with multiple holes in a raging ocean!

    So while the commercial motive is critical [as it is a human motivator and driver of innovation, in the case of Human Health (as well as Food and Agriculture)], which keeps us all alive, and also drives innovation and human progress, all the wealth you end up creating in a lifetime, you cannot take with you when you depart from the world! So the Global Rules based Laws needs to be re-examined and adjusted to ensure that Humanity and all of Gods Creatures survive and prosper.

    One suggestion is that the solutions and commercail prices set by private comapnies be aligned with Purchasing Power Parity at a appropriate level , ( Country , Community , Village etc.
    to maximise availability of such Goods and Services and still drives maximisation of profit — which continues to be the prime driver in humans) and this be the prime driver for Global
    Trade and the various Global Trading organisations which encourage Trade should make this as the basis of all Trade. The belief of the ability of the markets to set prices is true only when there are sufficient number of competitors with equally good product or service (which may be true in many cases ) , the emegence of monopoly’s and Duopoly’s who can fix prices and rip of the Common Man belie this fact. Such beliefs needs to be tempered with Common Sense. Opinions expressed are personal.

  3. No culling of Bats?
    All 20 strains of covid all came from one half cooked Bat, is that right?

    Denmark to Cull 17 Million Mink Amid SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Concerns
    https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/denmark-to-cull-17-million-mink-amid-sars-cov-2-mutation-concerns-68127

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