Hawaii state Department of Health microbiologist Mark Nagata demonstrates the process for testing a sample for coronavirus at the department's laboratory in Pearl City, Hawaii, March 3, 2020. (Photo: AP)
What caused the virus? How early did it happen? When and where did this take place?
Surprisingly, politicians have a louder voice than scientists on this purely science and health matter. Unlike scientists, they tend to flip-flop.
There must be an investigation to trace "Patient Zero" of the novel coronavirus and how they became infected, and to unfold the path of transmission and the transformation of strains. The purpose is to understand the nature of the virus, how human transmission took place, and how it evolved into new strains.
There will be a time for determining accountability related to the actions of individuals and governments during the pandemic, but that should wait until after scientists have finished their job.
First, as a global health issue, the investigation into the origins of the virus must be a UN-mandated mission coordinated by the World Health Organization.
Second, the mission should involve the world's top research institutions and leading scientists (epidemiologists) free from political interference and unilateral interests.
Third, the probe must be comprehensive and scientifically verifiable. The teams should be allowed to travel to every place they need to go to trace the earliest strains of the virus. It could be a geographical place, a lab (military or civilian), or a healthcare facility (hospitals or care centers, etc). There should be no forbidden zones. Early cases that may have been misdiagnosed and misclassified must also be included.
Fourth, information obtained should be publicly shared, so that more scientists and researchers can provide expertise in the development of medications and vaccines.
In short, the investigation must be a multilateral approach. All countries should be treated equal. Only science can be the dominant factor in deciding where and how to investigate the issue, and how many visits are necessary at a location. Politicians are only assistants on this matter.