The White House asked scientists to rapidly assess the origins of the new coronavirus, which started in China in December 2019 and has since spread to over two dozen countries, including the United States.
Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, director of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, conveyed the request to Dr. Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences, in a letter this week.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine should “rapidly examine information and identify data requirements that would help determine the origins of 2019-nCoV,” Droegemeier wrote, using another name for the virus, which is also known as the Wuhan coronavirus.
Droegemeier said that a “widely disputed paper” posted online last week was withdrawn but “the response to that manuscript highlights the need to determine information and data requirements as quickly as possible to better perform and validate such analyses of origin.”
“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,” he wrote.