Former president of Fiocruz, physician Carlos Morel is the only Brazilian to be part of an elite group of the World Health Organization (WHO). The collegiate aims to investigate the origins of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19, and create guidelines to identify and prevent the emergence of pathogens capable of triggering new pandemics.
The WHO had already created a group of experts to determine the origin of the new coronavirus responsible for the pandemic. Why another group?
The great geographical, scientific and political challenge is to know where the virus came from and how it arose. Was it the human hand? Mother Nature? Was it deliberately disseminated? Was there a leak (from a laboratory)? We’re not going to rule out any hypotheses, but we don’t have a predetermined agenda. However, we will only move forward with China’s collaboration. Nobody has the power to go in and rummage through drawers, it’s not there. We will need to work with scientists and the Chinese government. They have to trust the group.
You participated in the Viroma Global Project, launched in 2018, which aimed precisely to identify and sequence viruses with the potential to cause a pandemic. If it had advanced, could it have prevented or at least predicted the pandemic?
Difficult to say, but perhaps the assembly of the “atlas” with all the circulating viruses was more advanced.
But bats were in your sights, weren’t they?
If they were! Virologist Shi Zhengli, from Wuhan, attended a seminar at Fiocruz in mid 2019, gave a great lecture, with several slides drawing attention to wild animals as hosts and/or reservoirs of various viruses… It was as if she were pointing: ‘Look the danger there, people!’
What else can the new group do? Establish global guidelines for the case of the emergence of new pathogens, for example?
WHO has no police power, everything is built with confidence, but we can create guidelines for countries. For example, we can create an immediate reporting policy to WHO for the identification of a new pathogen.
Will we have a new pandemic?
Viruses are tailored and prepared to spread. It’s Darwin in the vein.
Information is from the newspaper The State of São Paulo.
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