Covid-19 present in Italy months before Wuhan outbreak, reveal scientists
An investigative study on coronavirus revealed that Covid-19 was circulating in Italy by September 2019, months before the first documented case was reported in China’s Wuhan, as per media reports.
The research was carried by the scientists at Milan’s National Cancer Institute (INT).
Gabriella Sozzi, an INT biologist, told CGTN Europe that the blood samples showed the presence of antibodies against Covid-19 from September, while the first documented case of Italy was on February 21.
Sozzi said to CGTN: “What we noticed, and it was unexpected, we found more than 10 per cent of the samples presenting antibodies against the Covid-19 virus. This finding seems to tell us that the Sars-Cov-2 virus was probably circulating at a low level in Italy before the outbreak that we had in February.”
The World Health Organization had confirmed the first case of the coronavirus in December last year, months after the blood samples were collected in Italy. However, the new evidence suggests this was not the beginning of the global outbreak.
The Italian research revealed that 11.6 per cent of nearly 1,000 healthy volunteers had coronavirus antibodies before the disease was officially detected in Italy.
In another test conducted by the University of Siena, four of the cases positive for coronavirus antibodies traced back to the first week of October. This means that the individuals were infected in September.
“Previous studies have already demonstrated that the virus could be present before in December 2019 because we noticed an increase of pneumonia in patients,” Sozzi added.
Earlier in March, Italian researchers had noted that there had been a higher-than-usual number of cases of severe pneumonia and flu reported in Lombardy at the end of 2019. This could be a further indication of the presence of the coronavirus.
Another Italian study had also reported the presence of the coronavirus in wastewater from Milan and Turin collected in December in 2019, the CGTN report added.
The researchers cautioned that the real danger is the asymptomatic carriers who constitute 90 per cent of cases
The solution? “Testing and testing and testing,” Sozzi said.