A new government study shows that people in at least five states were infected with the coronavirus in December 2019 and early January 2020, providing more evidence that the virus was in the country earlier than previously believed.
A study of blood samples taken by the National Institutes of Health from January to March of 2020 found COVID-19 antibodies in two people from Illinois and Massachusetts who gave blood samples on Jan. 7 and Jan. 8.
Given that the incubation period for the coronavirus can be up to two weeks, the results strongly suggest that the coronavirus was in the United States by early 2019. That’s earlier than the first confirmed case of COVID-19, which occurred on Jan. 19, 2020, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
Other early cases were found in Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
“It helps us understand a little bit more about the geographic spread of where the virus was in those very early days of the U.S. epidemic,” Keri Althoff, the lead author and a professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the Wall Street Journal.
The blood samples were taken as part of an NIH study known as “All of Us,” a program established in 2015 to examine ways to tailor medical care to the individual.
In total, the NIH took over 24,000 blood samples in early 2020, but only nine tested positive for the virus, suggesting that cases were sporadic early in the pandemic.
The results are consistent with other studies suggesting that the coronavirus was in the U.S. by late 2019 and early 2020. A recent study of blood donation taken by the Red Cross suggested that the virus was in the U.S. by December 2019, while a study in Nature found that it was in the U.S. by January 2020.
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Original Author: David Hogberg
Original Location: Coronavirus was in US by December 2019, NIH study finds