CAPE TOWN – Researchers believe they may have discovered the origin of Covid-19 to be un Italy rather than Wuhan, China with early reports of Covid-19 in food in blood samples as early as September 2019.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues with the final development of a vaccine yet to come, researchers continue learning more about the novel virus with a team based in Italy accidentally stumbling upon evidence which suggests the virus may have infected people across the country in September last year, which is a couple of months before the first case of Covid-19 was discovered in Wuhan, China.
In the study, published in Tumori Journal, researchers analysed blood samples from 959 asymptomatic individuals who participated in a lung cancer screening trials between September 2019 and March 2020 and discovered Covid-19 antibodies in 111 (11.6 percent) individuals starting from September 2019.
With these findings, many questioned how Italian health authorities or doctors had not detected the virus however the research shows that the individuals who have participated in the lung cancer screen had not shown any symptoms which indicated a large percentage of asymptomatic Covid-19 carriers.
“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,” said Giovanni Apolone, a co-author of the study. “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.”
“This study 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 coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic,” the lead authors wrote. “Finding SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in asymptomatic people before the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy may reshape the history of pandemic.”
Identifying the origin of Covid-19 may help avoid future outbreaks with the World Health Organisation deploying an international team of researchers in recent weeks to further investigate.
For LIVE updates on the Coronavirus pandemic, follow us on Twitter: @sacoronamonitor