LATEST! COVID-19 News: Italian Researchers Find Proof That SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus Was Circulating In Italy Even Before China Detected the Virus!
: Italian researchers from Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale Tumori, VisMederi Srl-Siena, University of Siena and University of Milan in a new study have surprisingly discovered that SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus was circulating in Italy even before China knew about its existence on its own soil.
There are no robust data on the real onset of SARS-CoV-2 infection and spread in the prepandemic period worldwide. The study team investigated the presence of SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain (RBD)–specific antibodies in blood samples of 959 asymptomatic individuals enrolled in a prospective lung cancer screening trial between September 2019 and March 2020 to track the date of onset, frequency, and temporal and geographic variations across the Italian regions. SARS-CoV-2 RBD-specific antibodies were detected in 111 of 959 (11.6%) individuals, starting from September 2019 (14%), with a cluster of positive cases (>30%) in the second week of February 2020 and the highest number (53.2%) in Lombardy.
This study findings shockingly shows an unexpected very early circulation of SARS-CoV-2 among asymptomatic individuals in Italy several months before the first patient was identified, and clarifies the onset and spread of the COVID-19pandemic. Finding SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in asymptomatic individuals before the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy may reshape the history of pandemic.
Worse, Trump may have to eat his own words and start calling the SARS-CoV-2 virus the Italian Virus. (The same goes for us at Thailand Medical News too!)
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed Tumori Journal. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0300891620974755
It was originally claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged in Wuhan City, China, in late December 2019. From there, it has spread to 191 countries and territories, infecting over 55.7 million people worldwide.
It was assumed that the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was thought to be tied to a wet market in Wuhan.
However this new evidence from Italy suggests that the virus may have been lingering around even before December 2019.
The study team found severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antibodies in people across several Italian regions as far back as September 2019.
The study findings shed light on the possibility that the virus had been spreading in Italy well before the outbreak was officially reported in Wuhan, China.
Initially Italy reported its first cases of COVID-19 when two tourists from China tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in Rome. The first laboratory-confirmed Italian COVID-19 case was detected in Lombardy on February 20, 2020. The male patients had no history of possible contacts with positive cases in Italy or abroad.
Alarmingly within a few days, more cases were recorded in the area. Soon, the government imposed a lockdown in the country to contain the virus spread.
t;span style="font-size:11px">Frequency of immunoglobulin M (red columns) and immunoglobulin G (blue columns) receptor-binding domain (RBD)–positive cases in respect to the total number of screening participants (green columns) throughout the 24 weeks from September 2019 to February 2020.
It was also widely believed that the virus had been circulating in Italy since January 2020. However, the rapid spread of the virus, the large number of people requiring hospitalization, and treatment in intensive care units suggest that the virus's arrival in a less symptomatic form could be several months prior.
To date, Italy has over 1.24 million cases and a staggering 46,470 deaths.
Typically serologic tests or assays measure the antibody response in a person. Antibodies to COVID-19 are produced over days to weeks after infection. The presence of antibodies shows that a person has been infected with SARS-CoV-2, irrespective of whether he had severe or mild disease. The test can also detect those who had an asymptomatic infection.
The anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody response analyses in patients with COVID-19 showed that within 13 days after the onset of symptoms, seroconversion of antiviral immunoglobulin G (IgG) or immunoglobulin M (IgM) was present in almost 100 percent of patients.
Comparison of the distribution of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) identified up to March 10, 2020, according to data of the Italian Ministry of Health (www.salute.gov.it), with the distribution of recruited screening subjects (blue dots) and SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain (RBD)–positive screening subjects (red dots) of the SMILE trial (Screening and Multiple Intervention on Lung Epidemics). The national distribution includes 10,149 patients with COVID-19, the 959 recruited screening subjects, and the 111 SARS-CoV-2 RBD-positive screening subjects across the 20 Italian regions (A). The regional distribution includes 5791 patients with COVID-19, the 491 recruited screening subjects, and the 59 SARS-CoV-2 RBD-positive screening subjects across the 12 provinces of Lombardy (B).
In order to arrive at the study findings, the study team investigated the frequency, timing, and geographic distribution of SARS-CoV-2 exposure in a series of 959 asymptomatic individuals, using SARS-CoV-2 binding and neutralizing antibodies on the plasma samples repository.
These asymptomatic individuals were originally enrolled in a prospective lung cancer screening trial between September 2019 and March 2020 to track the date of onset, frequency, and temporal and geographic variations in lung cancer across the Italian regions.
The study team performed receptor-binding domain (RBD)-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing.
Shockingly of the 959 plasma samples, 111 showed SARS-CoV-2 RBD-specific antibodies (IgM, IgG, or both). Specifically, they detected IgM antibodies in 97 samples and IgG antibodies in 16 samples. All of the patients had no symptoms at the time blood samples were collected.
Interestingly In the first two months of the study, the researchers revealed that 14.2 percent of the patients in September and 16.3 percent in October exhibited SARS-CoV-2 IgG or IgM antibodies, or both. The team found the first positive case (IgM-positive) on September 3 in the Veneto Region, followed by one case in Emilia Romagna on September 4, Liguria on September 5, and one in Lazio on September 11.
Also by the end of September, 13 of the 23 positive samples were detected in Lombardy, Italy's hardest-hit region. The team also detected three cases in Veneto, two in Piedmont, and one in Liguria, Emilia Romagna, Campania, Lazio, and Fruili.
Additional detailed further analysis showed two heights of positivity for anti-SARS-CoV-2 RBD antibodies. The first one began at the end of September, reaching 18 percent in the third week of October. The second one happened in February 2020, with a peak of more than 30 percent of IgM-positive cases in the second week.
The study team concluded, The study results indicate that SARS-CoV-2 circulated in Italy earlier than the first official COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in Lombardy, even long before the first official reports from the Chinese authorities, casting new light on the onset and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Interestingly evidence from environmental monitoring showed that SARS-CoV-2 was already circulating in northern Italy at the end of 2019. Molecular analysis with reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction assays of 40 composite influent wastewater samples collected between October 2019 and February 2020 in three cities and regions in northern Italy (Milan/Lombardy, Turin/Piedmont, and Bologna/Emilia Romagna) showed the presence of viral RNA first occurring in sewage samples collected on December 18 in Milan and Turin. This study also indicates that SARS-CoV-2 was circulating in different geographic regions simultaneously, which agrees with this study’s serologic findings. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720352402
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