By Helen Branswell
The WHO is hosting a meeting on Monday and Tuesday in Cairo, pulling
together researchers who work on coronaviruses, public health officials
who have been involved in the outbreak and others who can help to flesh
out what is known so far.
Among those attending will be people who led responses to other
emerging disease outbreaks, such as the 2003 SARS crisis. Someone from
Canada has been invited to attend to discuss the country’s SARS
experience, but the WHO won’t reveal the list of the invitees.
In part, a WHO official admits, the aim is to encourage more sharing
of information than has occurred up to date. Between 25 and 30 people
have been invited, and the meeting will be held behind closed doors.
“Often what we find is that people who are involved in research are
reluctant to share preliminary findings,” said Dr. Anthony Mounts, the
WHO’s point person for the coronavirus investigation.
“(It’s) partly because they want to publish but I think also because
there’s a reluctance to share stuff that they’re not quite confident in
yet, because it’s still preliminary. But we find that when they come to
meetings like this they’re much more willing to share it openly.”
Among those expected to attend is Dr. Ian Lipkin, director of the
Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman
School of Public Health in New York. Lipkin is an expert on emerging
infectious diseases; a brief biography on his centre’s website says he
has identified at least 400 previously unknown viruses in the past
Lipkin travelled to Saudi Arabia last fall to try to find the source
of the new coronavirus, and a comment he made to the journal Nature
suggests he found something. But he hasn’t shared that information in
any depth and most observers believe a publication is probably pending.
(Scientific journals typically won’t publish findings that have already
been reported elsewhere.)
The Nature article, published in early December, said Lipkin revealed
he had discovered that partial genetic sequences of a virus from bats
match the new coronavirus. “The finding gives insight into the original
source of the virus,” he told Nature.
Full article: http://metronews.ca/news/world/505109/who-looks-for-more-info-on-new-coronavirus/