The WHO said it’s seeking up to 25 officials with relevant expertise to apply for membership in its new scientific advisory group by September 10.
Critics have slammed the WHO's initial assessment, saying it was a flawed effort and noting that all of the team members sent to China needed Chinese government approval, as did the WHO report.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged last month it was “ premature ” to rule out the lab leak theory, describing lab accidents as “common.”
In a Danish documentary released earlier this month, the WHO's team leader said during a trip to China that he was worried about safety standards at a facility close to where the first human COVID-19 cases were detected in Wuhan — concerns that were not previously disclosed by the WHO.
Numerous health experts and scientists have called for an independent investigation to be conducted beyond the WHO, pointing out that the agency has no authority to compel countries, including China, to co-operate.
According to the terms of reference released on Friday, the WHO’s new expert group will also be bound by certain confidentiality rules, similar to those in place for many of the agency's other expert groups.
The guidelines state that members shall not speak on behalf of the WHO or the group to any third party, that internal deliberations should be treated as “strictly confidential” and that they should not quote from or use any documents outside of the group’s remit.
The WHO will retain full control over any reports, including whether or not they will be published.