Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

The P4 lab of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday named 26 scientists to a new advisory board that will study the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: Without a shift in attitude from Beijing, the new panel isn't likely to succeed in determining how this pandemic began. But it should be in a position to create a clearer picture of how to identify where new diseases like COVID-19 come from.

  • The scientists were vetted for conflicts of interest and have more expertise on laboratory biorisks, which can help to study one hypothesis that the virus leaked from a lab.

Driving the news: The new panel includes an American scientist and a Chinese researcher — the two countries at the heart of the dispute over COVID's origins — as well as the head of a Swiss biosafety center, which sends a signal the WHO will consider the possibility of a lab leak alongside theories about zoonotic spillover.

  • Flashback: The original — and now-disbanded — WHO investigative team came under criticism for dismissing a lab leak as "extremely unlikely" in its report published earlier this year.

Details: The new group will assess recent studies on possible animal reservoirs of the virus, and advise the WHO on potential future field research that may be needed — including looking at labs where the first human infections were recorded in Wuhan, China.

  • Yes, but: Such field work would require Beijing's permission, and "this new group can do all the fancy footwork it wants, but China's not going to cooperate," David Fidler, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the New York Times.

What to watch: Notably, the new panel will be charged with looking beyond COVID-19 and examining the origins of any new emerging diseases to come — what the WHO refers to generally as "Disease X."

  • The millions who have died from COVID-19 "are owed answers as to where and how the virus originated," WHO Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus co-wrote in an editorial published today in Science.
  • "It's in everyone's interest to better prepare for the next Disease X."

Go deeper

20 hours ago - Health

Age is still a huge coronavirus risk factor

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Note: Data represents 30% of Americans across 16 jurisdictions: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York City, Seattle/King County, Wash., Utah and Wisconsin; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Even vaccinated Americans who are 80 or older are at higher risk of dying from the coronavirus than anyone — vaccinated or not — under the age of 50, according to CDC data.

Why it matters: The vaccines work really well against hospitalization and death, but they're not perfect. Reducing the level of COVID circulating in the community is key to protecting older or vulnerable adults — even vaccinated ones.

Florida's secret delta toll

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Roughly 4,500 Tampa Bay residents — an average of about 36 per day — died from COVID-19 over the four months the Florida Department of Health did not share daily pandemic information with citizens.

Driving the news: The data is now available and gives a clearer picture of the heartbreaking toll of the latest record-breaking spikes from the delta variant — which is only now subsiding — between June and October.

The new cold war panic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The world has seen a power struggle between nuclear powers before, and has seen those countries inch closer to military conflict. But it's never before seen a cold war between two countries as interconnected — with each other and with the rest of the globe — as the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Escalating antagonism between the world's two superpowers is likely to hinder global cooperation to fight climate change, divert resources to costly arms and tech races, complicate diplomacy for U.S. allies, and victimize Chinese and American citizens living in each other's countries.