(Right Country) – The White House has called for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus as confusion and conflicting information spreads online and following the news that the first American has died of the virus.
The director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy penned a letter to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on Monday asking them to “rapidly examine information” and “identify data requirements” that could provide insight into the origins of the virus.
“These questions are important not only for this current situation, but to inform future outbreak preparation and better understand animal/human and environmental transmission aspects of coronaviruses,” director Kevin K. Droegemeier wrote.
“This review will aid preparedness for future events by establishing a process that quickly assembles subject matter experts for evaluating other potentially threatening organisms.”
Droegemeir requested that NASEM — which is made up of private, nonprofit institutions and tasked with providing scientific support to the federal government — to call a meeting for “experts, particularly world class geneticists, coronavirus experts, and evolutionary biologists” in their efforts.
Western Journal writes:
Marcia McNutt, the president of the organization, thanked Droegemeir for the timeliness of his letter “given the declaration of a public health emergency and potential for misinformation to confound the response,” in her responding letter on Thursday.
McNutt was referencing the efforts made by governments and social media companies to stop the spread of misinformation about the virus that has infected over 34,000 people and killed at least 724 since December.
McNutt wrote that while the research of the origin of coronavirus was already underway, the organization “consulted leading experts in the fields of virology, infectious disease genomics, genome sciences, epidemiology, microbiology, immunobiology, coronaviruses, emerging infections, biosecurity, and global health” to get their take on the data available.
The experts informed NASEM that additional “genomic sequence data from geographically- and temporally-diverse viral samples” was needed in order to properly identify the origin of the virus.
“International collaboration of this kind is more important than ever to overcome these types of global challenges,” McNutt wrote.
Also on Thursday, the first US citizen died from the deadly coronavirus at a hospital in Wuhan, according to the US Embassy in Beijing.
It is not yet known who the victim was, other than that they were around 60 years old.
“We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss,” the embassy said in a statement to The New York Times.
“Out of the respect for the family’s privacy, we have no further comment,” they added.
The United States has evacuated hundreds of Americans from Wuhan, China, where the virus emerged in December, CNN reported.
The evacuated citizens were quarantined upon their arrival and five were hospitalized with symptoms of coronavirus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.