Dr. Koopmans said that she hoped studies of blood donations could be extended to other provinces and regions outside of China. “My perfect study design would be that you include regions in Italy and France where there were possible indications of the presence of the virus before December,” she said.

She said that standardized tests should be done for all regions in question. That in turn might point to isolated pockets of early appearances of the virus. Wildlife tests in such areas might be productive.

Dr. Koopmans defended the W.H.O. team’s mission, saying it was always intended to be a scientific study with Chinese colleagues. If an investigation is the goal, she said, “you need to do an inspection or something, but that’s not a scientific study.”

On that the critics agree. One of the most telling sections of the letter from W.H.O. critics is about the composition of a team investigating Chinese labs. If the ground rules for a second mission are rewritten, the letter says, the W.H.O. should “ensure the incorporation of a wider skill-set in the international experts team, including biosafety and biosecurity experts, biodata analysts and experienced forensic investigators.”

Almost at the very end of the report, in discussing what should be done to learn more about the likelihood of a laboratory incident, the report recommends: “Regular administrative and internal review of high-level biosafety laboratories worldwide. Follow-up of new evidence supplied around possible laboratory leaks.”

Mr. Metzl said he couldn’t agree more and said that in the future, such review should include U.S. labs. But, he said, the pandemic is of utmost urgency and he wants to start right away with China. Still, he and the other signers of the two letters, he said, are highly concerned with virus research around the world.

Whereas many virologists and disease specialists want to collect and study viruses as a way to learn more and be more prepared for outbreaks, Mr. Metzl said he and others wanted more restrictions on virus studies.

“It absolutely makes sense to establish a global regulatory system overseeing aggressive work with dangerous or deadly pathogens everywhere,” he said.

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