In September 2019, 14% of the volunteers who took part in a lung cancer study had antibodies to the new coronavirus, which probably existed in Italy back in the summer. This was reported by the Corriere della Sera.
“We knew it didn't start in China in December, but now a study published in November signed by the director of the National Cancer Institute in Milan, Giovanni Apolone, tells us something completely unexpected: in September 2019, 14% of the sample of volunteers who took part in research on lung cancer, had antibodies to the new coronavirus. In other words, SARS-Cov-2 circulated in Italy long before February and probably since the summer of 2019," the scientists noted.
The infection was found in 13 regions of the country. In particular, in Lombardy, Piedmont, Lazio, Tuscany, and Venetto. It all started in the context of lung cancer screening, which took place from September 2019 to March 2020. It was attended by 959 volunteers. Participants underwent spiral computed tomography of the lungs and took a blood test. 111 of 959 samples were positive for immunoglobulin G (16 cases) or for immunoglobulin M (97 cases). It is also noted that since November 2019, many general physicians have begun to report the appearance of severe respiratory symptoms in elderly people with atypical bilateral bronchitis, which, in the absence of news about the new virus, has been associated with aggressive forms of seasonal flu.
"Now we can say with even more confidence: it was not the flu, but the first signs of Covid-19, a new disease that no one noticed until the late alert China launched at the end of December," the researchers said.