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Coronavirus origin: China plans to analyze tens of thousands of samples from Wuhan's blood bank


The samples could provide valuable information about the cause of the pandemic: According to a media report, China is preparing an analysis in the blood bank in Wuhan. Experts fear a lack of transparency.

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Wuhan Skyline (January 2021)

Photo: Ng Han Guan / AP

There are many theories about the origin of the global corona pandemic.

Numerous pieces of evidence point to the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province, where Covid-19 was officially diagnosed for the first time.

According to the US broadcaster CNN, a large-scale analysis of stored blood samples in search of the Covid trigger is now starting there.

CNN relies on unnamed Chinese officials.

Specifically, the investigation should involve up to 200,000 samples that are stored in the city's blood bank.

This also includes samples from the last quarter of 2019, around the time the virus first spread.

As CNN reports, the blood samples are subject to a two-year period: this is how long they have to remain untouched and sealed in order to be used as evidence in any legal dispute.

For the samples from the possibly crucial months of October and November 2019, this deadline will now expire soon.

Preparations for an analysis of these blood donations for the virus are ongoing, according to the report.

How - and above all with which staff - this process should take place is still open.

Are foreign experts allowed to be there?

The US broadcaster quotes virus expert Maureen Miller from Columbia University.

She urges China to involve foreign scientists in the process: "Nobody will believe China's results unless at least qualified observers are admitted." Despite these concerns, she assumes that the blood bank "definitely contains important information."

The US scientist's concerns are not unfounded.

Most recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) sharply criticized China's behavior in the search for the origin of the virus last month.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that Beijing lacks the will to cooperate.

He also brought up the possibility of sanctions if WHO members refuse to work together in the future.

Willingness to cooperate seems limited

In July 2021, China refused to allow the WHO to inspect its own laboratories.

It was about the theory that the virus could have accidentally escaped from a laboratory.

The WHO chief had admitted that a laboratory accident had been classified by the experts as the "most unlikely hypothesis".

Nevertheless, he sees a need for "further investigations".

China brusquely rejected this at the time.

In general, Beijing's willingness to work together seems limited.

A team of international experts on behalf of the WHO was only able to visit Wuhan in January 2021 - more than a year after the virus was discovered.

The corresponding report was published at the end of March but did not provide any clear results.

Numerous states expressed concern that international experts had been denied access to data during their investigation in China.

The WHO experts further classify the laboratory theory as "extremely unlikely".

Rather, it is "likely to very likely" that the Sars-CoV-2 virus has passed from a bat via an intermediate host animal to humans.

In this search for clues, the samples from the blood bank in Wuhan could now provide valuable clues.


Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2021-10-13

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