China is preparing to test thousands of blood samples in Wuhan to uncover the origins of COVID-19

·2 min read
Wuhan reopening july 20 2020
A cinema in Wuhan is disinfected as the area moved to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic on July 20, 2020. Getty Images
  • China will test thousands of blood samples from people in Wuhan to uncover the origins of COVID-19.

  • CNN reported up to 200,000 samples collected during 2019 are being kept in the Wuhan Blood Center.

  • Experts reported the first coronavirus cases of the pandemic in Wuhan during December 2019.

China is preparing to test thousands of blood samples collected and stored in Wuhan to uncover the origins of COVID-19, CNN reported on Wednesday.

Wuhan, in central China's Hubei province, is considered ground zero of the pandemic, as experts reported the first coronavirus cases there in December 2019. In February, experts at the World Health Organization suggested blood samples from city residents could help investigators discern how the pandemic began.

Chinese officials have kept up to 200,000 samples collected during 2019 at the Wuhan Blood Center in case the samples are needed as evidence against any lawsuits related to the donations, according to CNN. Some of the samples date to October and November 2019 - when scientists think the virus first infected humans.

There's a two-year waiting period in place before researchers can test the blood samples, but that period is up this month.

"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 announced last month that it is restarting its investigation into the origins of COVID-19 in China, given that the pandemic's origin remains uncertain. Some scientists and politicians - some of the from the US - have accused China of concealing the cause of the outbreak, claiming COVID-19 leaked from a lab in Wuhan.

Many scientists suggest the most likely origin of the pandemic is an animal like bat that may have then passed the coronavirus onto an intermediary host that then infected humans, possibly at a wild animal farm in southern China.

Several members of a WHO team that visited China in January 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.

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