<!– Italian study raises doubts that coronavirus began in Wuhan China –>
By Agency Reporters
The coronavirus may have been circulating in Italy since September 2019, according to a study released Sunday by the National Cancer Institute (INT) in Milan.
If true, it would mean that the virus was present in Italy three months before it was first reported in China in December 2019.
And this was also five months before the first official case was recorded in Italy on Feb. 21, 2019.
The INT research showed that 11.6 percent of the 959 healthy volunteers who participated in a lung cancer screening trial between September 2019 to March 2020 had developed COVID-19 antibodies well before February.
A further specific SARS-CoV-2 antibodies test was carried out by the University of Siena for the same research titled “Unexpected detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the pre-pandemic period in Italy”.
Giovanni Apolone, a co-author of the study, said that four cases from the study dated to the first week in October last year, which means those people had been infected in September.
He said the four cases were also positive for antibodies neutralizing the virus
The northern region of Lombardy, whose capital is Milan where the pandemic first emerged in late February, had previously reported an unusually high number of cases of severe flu and pneumonia in the last quarter of 2019.
“This is the main finding: people with no symptoms not only were positive after the serological tests but had also antibodies able to kill the virus,” Apolone said.
“It means that the new coronavirus can circulate among the population for long and with a low rate of lethality not because it is disappearing but only to surge again,” he added.
In earlier statements, the World Health Organization said the new coronavirus and COVID-19, the respiratory disease it causes, were unknown before the outbreak was first reported in Wuhan, in central China, in December.
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