- China is preparing to test thousands of blood samples in Wuhan to uncover the origins of COVID-19.
- Up to 200,000 samples spanning 2019 are kept in the Wuhan Blood Center, CNN reported.
- Wuhan is thought to have been the location of the first COVID-19 infections in humans.
China is preparing to test thousands of blood samples in Wuhan to uncover the origins of COVID-19, CNN reported on Wednesday.
The city in central China’s Hubei province is thought to have been the location of the first COVID-19 infections in humans, and the World Health Organization in February that the blood samples could help investigators figure out how exactly the pandemic started.
Up to 200,000 samples from 2019 at the Wuhan Blood Center have been kept by Chinese officials in case they are needed as evidence against any lawsuits related to the donations, the report said.
Chinese officials said once the two-year waiting period passes for October and November 2019 – which is when experts think the virus first infected humans – researchers will begin testing the blood samples, CNN reported.
“This provides the closest in the world we’ve seen of real time samples to help us understand the timing of the outbreak event,” Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, told CNN.
The WHO last month announced that it is restarting its investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in China, as competing theories of the disease’s origin remain. Some – including US politicians – have accused China of concealing the cause of the outbreak, claiming COVID-19 leaked from a lab in Wuhan.
Some scientists have said the most likely origin of the disease is natural spillover from animal to human, potentially at a meat market in the area.
Several members of a WHO team that visited China in January had said that Chinese officials refused to hand over key information, like raw patient data from early cases, that could have helped determine when and how COVID-19 started.
“No one will believe any results that China reports unless there are qualified observers at the very least,” Maureen Miller, associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University told CNN.