Chinese officials have been promoting a new study that claims the coronavirus could have been spreading undetected in Italy months before it was first found in Wuhan, The New York Post reports.
The National Cancer Institute (INT) in Milan found that a portion of volunteers in a lung cancer screening trial that took place between September 2019 and March 2020 were found to have coronavirus antibodies. The first patient to test positive for the coronavirus in Italy was identified in late February.
“This once again shows that tracing the virus’s source is a complex scientific question that should be left to scientists,” a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, according to the Times of London. “[It] is a developing process that can involve multiple countries.”
Giovanni Apolone, one of the study’s co-authors, told Reuters that the study shows some of the antibodies were present in the first week of October, meaning they must have been infected in September.
“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,” Apolone said. “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.”
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