ROME (Reuters) – A study by the National Cancer Institute (INT) of Milan, Italy, showed that the new coronovirus was roaming Italy in September 2019, indicating that it may spread far more than previously thought from China .
The World Health Organization has stated that the new coronovirus and COVID-19, the cause of respiratory disease, were unknown before the outbreak was reported at the end of last year in Wuhan, central China. But it has been said that “the possibility that the virus may be circulating silently cannot be ruled out elsewhere.”
The WHO said on Monday that it was reviewing the results from Italy and seeking additional information and clarifications published over the weekend.
Italy’s first COVID-19 patient was found on 21 February in a small town near Milan in the northern region of Lombardy.
Findings from Italian researchers published by INT’s scientific journal Tomorrow Journal reported that 11.6% of the 959 healthy volunteers registered for lung cancer screening between September 2019 and March 2020 developed coronavirus antibodies well before February Was.
Another SARS-CoV-2 antibody test was conducted by the University of Siena, entitled “Unexpected detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in pre-pandemic times in Italy” for the same research in Italy.
It showed that four cases dating back to the first week of October were positive for antibodies, meaning they became infected in September, study co-author Giovanni Apollon told Reuters.
“This is the main finding: people with no symptoms were not only positive after serological tests, but also antibodies capable of killing the virus,” Apollon said.
“This means that the new coronovirus can move between populations for a longer period of time and with a lower rate of lethargy, not because it is disappearing, only to grow again,” he said.
The WHO said it would make arrangements to contact the authors of the paper “to discuss further analysis of the available samples and to verify neutral results”.
Italian researchers told Reuters in March that they compared the general number of cases of severe pneumonia and flu in Lombardy in a sign in the last quarter of 2019 that new coronoviruses may be transmitted before thought.
Reporting by Giselda Vegnoni; Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebeya in Geneva; Editing by Amelia Sithole-Mataris and Janet Lawrence