The samples are kept at the Wuhan Blood Center, and are believed to span 2019, providing real-time tissue samples from a broad segment of the population in the Chinese city, where SARS-CoV-2 is believed to be I was the first infected person.
Blood bank samples are retained for two years, Chinese officials have said, in case they are needed as evidence in any lawsuit related to blood donation.
The two-year waiting period for the key months of October and November 2019 will soon come to an end, when most experts believe the virus could have infected humans first. An official from China’s National Health Commission told Granthshala that preparations are underway for the trial, and that the two-year limit will be confirmed once the test is done.
“This provides the closest we have seen in the world to real-time samples to help us understand the timing of the outbreak’s occurrence,” said Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.
“They will have important clues,” said Maureen Miller, associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University. He urged China to allow foreign experts to oversee the process. “No one will believe any results that China reports unless there are at least qualified observers,” she said.
Liang Wanian, the head of the Chinese team working on the WHO’s investigation, first told a July news conference that China would test samples, once Chinese experts had the results, they would pass them on to both Chinese and foreign experts. . team.”
Liang said the samples came from the opening tube of a donor blood pouch, sealed closed and then stored, and that Chinese experts “made a number of assessments and evaluations on testing methods and action plans, both of which will be implemented after completion”. – year limit.
Experts said that if the samples are stored properly, they could contain important signs of the first antibodies made by humans against the disease.
Liang said in July that while the first case was reported in Wuhan on 8 December, “our research and previous related research papers from Chinese scientists fully suggest … 8 December is probably not the primary case. Other cases There may also be. Before that.”
of the Vanderbilt University Department of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases, Dr. William Schaffner said the samples presented an “attractive opportunity. You might want to go back to find out what month this virus started leaving fingerprints in the human population. China.”
The samples can also indicate who was first infected, where, and their age and occupation, Miller said.
“It is common practice to identify samples,” she said. “So you can take it down to the basic demographics, age, gender of the neighborhood where they lived. All those data would be available.”
Schaffner suggested that the samples could be brought to Geneva or another neutral destination to allow WHO experts to participate in the test.
He said there could be two potential issues with the samples “the integrity of the blood samples — ensuring they weren’t made recently,” but also how representative the population was as a total of blood donors. Miller said many samples would have been taken from healthy individuals “so they would represent asymptomatic cases. And as we’ve learned during epidemics, asymptomatic cases fuel epidemics.”
Huang said it was unclear “to what extent the outside world would rely on the findings to be credible or reassuring,” and that the trial provided an opportunity for China to “tell the world that they were concerned about the politicization of the original investigation.” are serious.”
The Biden administration conducted a 90-day review of intelligence about the virus’s origins, yet in an unclassified report officials still considered both natural transmission from animals to humans and a laboratory leak as plausible theories, yet Was unable to determine which was more likely.
President Joe Biden, upon receiving a classified version of the report, said: “Critical information about the origins of this pandemic exists in the People’s Republic of China, yet from the very beginning, government officials in China have tried to deter international investigators and members from prevent the global public health community from accessing it.”
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