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For Transparency on Viral Origins

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, has called on China to be more transparent and provide greater access to Chinese labs to aid investigations into the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and the origins of SARS-CoV-2, Science reports.

The WHO is "asking actually China to be transparent, open, and cooperate, especially on the information, raw data that we asked for at the early days of the pandemic," Tedros said during a press conferences, according to the Associated Press.

The AP adds that Tedros also said it was premature of the health agency to rule out the lab-leak theory for the origins of the virus. Earlier this year, a WHO-led team determined that that scenario was "extremely unlikely" and noted that the virus probably passed from bats to people through an unknown intermediary.

Science reports that researchers who have been critical of WHO's handling of the viral origins investigation are encouraged by Tedros' sharper stance, but that others say he has given in to pressure — particularly from the US where President Joe Biden has called on intelligence agencies to investigate the virus' origins — to give the lab-leak theory more credence.

According to Science, Tedros also announced the establishment of a new WHO International Scientific Advisory Group for Origins of Novel Pathogens to take part in the next set of studies of the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and any future pathogens.

The Scan

And Back

The New York Times reports that missing SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences are back in a different database.

Lacks Family Hires Attorney

A lawyer for the family of Henrietta Lacks plans to seek compensation from pharmaceutical companies that have used her cancer cells in product development, the Baltimore Sun reports.

For the Unknown

The Associated Press reports that family members are calling on the US military to use new DNA analysis techniques to identify unknown sailors and Marines who were on the USS Arizona.

PLOS Papers on Congenital Heart Disease, COVID-19 Infection Host MicroRNAs, Multiple Malformation Mutations

In PLOS this week: new genes linked to congenital heart disease, microRNAs with altered expression in COVID-19, and more.