China is preparing to test thousands of blood samples from Wuhan taken in the early months of the pandemic – away from the eyes of outside observers in what many fear will become Beijing’s latest Covid cover-up.
Chinese officials say preparations are underway to test 200,000 blood donations taken in Wuhan – ground zero of the pandemic – in the two months before the first official case was reported to check for traces of the virus.
If traces of infection are found, then it would prove the disease was circulating earlier than previously though – as many already suspect – and may help identify the first person who caught the virus and, crucially, how they became infected.
But a Chinese official said earlier this year that the tests will be carried out in China by Chinese experts, raising fears that they could be faked or tampered with.
Western scientists are now urging the WHO – which first identified the blood samples as potential evidence – to intervene and carry out the probe in a neutral location.
It is also not clear what will happen to the samples once they have been tested, and there are claims that China could use bogus blood samples or that scientists already carried out the testing and have withheld the results.
The Chinese Community Party has been repeatedly slammed for its failure to report the early signs of Covid-19 as scientists who first detected it were arrested and silenced and blame was deflected to the US.
China then kept evidence from a WHO probe into the virus’s origins, prompting the health body to call for a new investigation with access to raw data after its initial report was lambasted as a politicised white-wash.