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Concerns on WHO Report

More than a dozen countries have expressed concerns regarding the World Health Organization report issued this week on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reports.

That report, which stems from a visit a WHO team took to Wuhan, China, earlier this year, said that the most likely source of SARS-CoV-2 was bats, which then probably passed the virus through an unknown, intermediate animal to humans, and that the lab-leak theory was "extremely unlikely" and that though the "cold-chain" food products was possible, it too was unlikely, according to the Associated Press. As Science notes, there is little evidence to support the lab-leak theory — most virologists suspect SARS-CoV-2 did originate in bats — but as the WHO team was unable to independently investigate the matter, experts say the team ought not have ruled it out.

In a joint statement, 14 countries raised concerns about the report, namely the delays in producing it and the team did not have full data access. "Scientific missions like these should be able to do their work under conditions that produce independent and objective recommendations and findings," the statement, which was signed by the US, UK, and Japan, among others, says.

The governments further call for additional studies and a renewed commitment to transparency.

The Scan

Highly Similar

Researchers have uncovered bat viruses that are highly similar to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Gain of Oversight

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden Administration is considering greater oversight of gain-of-function research.

Lasker for mRNA Vaccine Work

The Scientist reports that researchers whose work enabled the development of mRNA-based vaccines are among this year's Lasker Award winners

PLOS Papers on Causal Variant Mapping, Ancient Salmonella, ALK Fusion Test for NSCLC

In PLOS this week: MsCAVIAR approach to map causal variants, analysis of ancient Salmonella, and more.