China Tests Blood Samples to Determine Virus Origins and More COVID-19 Research Updates

Coroanvirus Research

Research on the ever-evolving SARS-CoV-2 virus continues as scientists scramble to make sense of it and find cures. Here's a look.

China seeks to determine COVID-19 origins by testing 200,000 blood samples stored in Wuhan

China's National Health Commission is reportedly undertaking a massive blood analysis project on the 200,000 blood stores taken from patients in Wuhan before the pandemic started, with the goal to finally determine where the disease started and how. The samples, which were supposedly collected in 2019, are stored at the Wuhan Blood Center. Wuhan is the Chinese city where the SARS-CoV-2 virus was reported to have first affected humans on December 8, 2019. 

The scope of the test is massive, and some industry specialists recommend that the study be brought to Geneva or any other neutral location so that the World Health Organization can also take part in the activities. However, while the effort was welcomed by many who are eager to find out the true origins of the virus, some expressed concern on the reliability of the blood samples and whether or not these are truly representative of the beginnings of the pandemic. 

According to Liang Wannian, head of the Chinese team of scientists working on the project, it could be possible that the first human infection did not happen on December 8 but much earlier. 

The study has not begun as of this writing as the scientists are still waiting on the two-year expiry period for the samples to be kept in the Wuhan Blood Bank before they can take action. The two-year retention period ends in October or November this year. 

Breakthrough infections might not be as contagious as previously thought, say UC scientist

According to an immunologist from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, vaccinated individuals and got a breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infection might not be as contagious as was initially thought.

In a report by NPR, immunologist Ross Kedl said that the virus that a vaccinated person transmits is different from the virus coming from a person who hasn't had any vaccination. Kedl points to the antibodies that vaccinated persons naturally develop over time, thereby making the risk for downstream transmission very low. 

His claims were corroborated by Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist Michal Caspi Tai, whose research shows that vaccinated persons will have a considerable amount of antibodies living in their mucosal membranes (mouth and nose), which are the two main points of entry. With this knowledge, Tai said that a vaccinated person who sneezes or coughs would most likely be less infectious. 

These hypotheses are making the rounds in the health care community, with some scientists finding a lot of sense in the claims. Further research is still required, however, to take these as conclusive. 

Russia Vehemently Denies Vaccine Blueprint Stealing Accusations

News has been circulating in the healthcare community that Russia has stolen the formula it used for its Sputnik V vaccine from Oxford-AstraZeneca — a claim that Russia denies and calls a "scientific nonsense."

British tabloid The Sun reported the allegations claiming it came from members of the British security services, although the latter has yet to issue a statement or comment about this. It has been said that Russian spies were responsible for securing the vaccine blueprint and that UK security services had solid proof of this activity. 

Kirill Dmitriev, the head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), also refuted the allegations, calling them a "blatant lie." In an interview with CNBC, Dmitriev criticized the news for highlighting information from anonymous sources adding that it is part of a smear campaign against Sputnik V by big pharma companies and politicians. Russia is reportedly seeking to partner with AstraZeneca to conduct a joint clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of mixing COVID-19 vaccines. 

Sputnik V still is not approved for use in the U.S., the E.U, and the UK. The World Health Organization is also still reviewing the drug, with no conclusion as of this writing.

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