WHO studying evidence of coronavirus antibodies found in Italy dating back to late 2019

(Xinhua) 16:17, June 08, 2021

A woman wearing a face mask walks past the Pantheon in Rome, Italy, April 21, 2021. (Xinhua/Cheng Tingting)

The findings from Italy are important because they "help create a more accurate picture" of the virus' evolution, which will both help confront the current pandemic and respond to a future pandemic more effectively, said a professor of public health at the University of Siena.

ROME, June 7 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) is evaluating evidence from Italy that the coronavirus or a similar virus may have been circulating in Italy months earlier than generally believed, a researcher told Xinhua on Monday.

Italy's National Cancer Institute (INT) reported in November last year that it found evidence of coronavirus antibodies in the blood of four Italian cancer test subjects in early October 2019, meaning they would have been infected by the virus in September, three months before China reported its first case of COVID-19, and five months before the first confirmed case in Italy.

Emanuele Montomoli, co-author of the original study and a professor of public health at the University of Siena, said the WHO was informed of the study's findings soon after they were revealed.

Soon after, researchers sent 30 biological samples -- all from the period between October and December in 2019 before the coronavirus was widely known -- to Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands which was selected by the WHO for further testing, according to Montomoli.


(Web editor: Guo Wenrui, Liang Jun)


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