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The store, which can hold up to 200,000 samples, including those from the last months of 2019, was identified in February of this year by the World Health Organization panel of investigators as a possible source of key information that could help determine when and where the virus first spread to humans. .
The samples are being kept at the Wuhan Blood Center and are expected to extend into 2019, providing real-time tissue samples from a large portion of the population in the Chinese city where SARS-CoV-2 is said to have first infected humans.
The blood bank samples have been kept for two years, Chinese officials said, in case they are needed as evidence in legal proceedings relating to the donated blood from which they came. This two-year waiting period will soon expire for the key months of October and November 2019, when most experts believe the virus could have first infected humans.
An official from China’s National Health Commission told CNN that preparation for the tests is currently underway and confirmed testing will take place once the two-year limit is reached.
They will “absolutely contain vital signs,” said Maureen Miller, associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University. She urged China to allow foreign experts to observe the process. “No one will believe the results reported by China unless there are at least qualified observers,” she said.