The samples are kept at the Wuhan Blood Center, and are thought to cover 2019, providing real-time tissue samples from a vast population of the Chinese city where SARS-CoV-2 is thought to be first infected by people.
Blood bank samples were kept for two years, Chinese officials said, in case they were needed as evidence in any lawsuits related to the blood donations they originated from.
That two-year wait is about to expire for the key months of October and November 2019, where most experts think the virus may have first infected humans. An official from China’s National Health Commission, told CNN preparations for the trial are currently underway, and confirmed that the trial will take place once the two -year limit is reached.
“It provides the closest in the world we can see real -time samples to help us understand the time of the outbreak event,” said Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.
They will “absolutely contain vital clues,” said Maureen Miller, associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University. He urged China to allow foreign experts to observe the process. “No one will believe any of the results reported by China unless there are qualified observers somehow,” he said.
The head of the Chinese team working on the WHO investigation, Liang Wannian, first said at a conference in July that China would test the samples, adding that once Chinese experts “have the results, they will deliver it to both expert Chinese and foreign teams. “
Liang said the samples came from the opening tube of a donor blood bag, sealed and sealed, and the Chinese experts “did a lot of testing and evaluation on the test methods and action plan, which will be enforced after the expiration “of the two -year limit.
The samples, if stored correctly, could contain vital signs of the first antibodies made by people against the disease, experts said.
Liang said in July that while the first reported case was in Wuhan on December 8, “our research and previous related research papers by Chinese scientists fully suggest … December 8 is probably not major case. There may be other cases that have happened before. “
Dr. William Schaffner, from the infectious disease division of Vanderbilt University’s Department of Medicine, said the samples presented an “amazing opportunity. You want to go back to find out exactly in which month this virus was began to leave fingerprints on the human population in China. “
The samples could also indicate who was first infected, where, and their age and occupation, Miller added.
“It’s common practice to identify samples,” he said. “So you can vary it by basic demographics, age, gender neighborhoods where they live. All of that data is available.”
Schaffner suggested that the samples could be taken to Geneva, or another undisclosed destination, to allow WHO experts to take part in the trial.
He said two possible issues with the samples could be “the integrity of the blood samples – making sure it wasn’t created recently,” but also how representative the population across blood donors is. Miller said many samples were likely taken from healthy individuals “so they represent asymptomatic cases. And as we learned in the course of a pandemic, asymptomatic cases serve as pandemics. “
Huang said it was unclear “to what extent the outside world would trust the findings as credible or credible,” and the trial marked an opportunity for China to “tell the world they are serious about depoliticizing the origin of the investigation. “
The Biden administration conducted a 90-day intelligence analysis of how the virus originated, but an unclassified report that officials still consider both natural transmission from animal to humans and a lab leak as reasonable theories, but cannot determine which is more likely.
President Joe Biden, in receiving a classified version of the report, said: “Critical information about the origin of this pandemic exists in the People’s Republic of China, but from the beginning, government officials in China have worked to prevent international investigators and members of the global public health community from accessing it. “