🇺🇸@COVID19Up: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) said Tuesday that the testing of blood samples from an ongoing NIH research program has identified people infected with SARS-CoV-2 from at least five U.S. states in December 2019 and early 2020, months before those states officially reported their first infections.

The large government study is providing new evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was spreading across the United States before scientists even knew it existed. Their findings were published by the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases on Tuesday.

Calling the finding another “piece of the puzzle” in terms of when and how the pandemic began, scientists say this offers additional evidence that SARS-CoV-2 may have been spreading in the U.S. in December 2019.

“We haven’t followed up with these participants to know if they had traveled outside the U.S., or had contact with folks who traveled outside the U.S. But, it is important, for future pandemic planning, to know what’s happening during periods of low prevalence in epidemics, such as this,” Sheri Schully, a co-author of the paper, told Axios.

They did not examine blood samples prior to January 2, 2020.

A Pattern Emerges

Researchers at Barcelona University previously detected the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in samples of Barcelona’s wastewater as far back as March 12, 2019.


These results, sent to a high impact journal and published in the archive medRxiv, suggest SARS-CoV-2 was present in Spain nearly a year before any COVID-19 cases were officially reported.

Additionally, samples from another study suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 was in Italy by October 2019 were re-tested at the WHO’s request earlier this month.

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