Scientists Report Earliest Known Coronavirus Cases in Five US States - The New York Times
Jun 15, 2021 1 min, 12 secs
Blood drawn from nine people in the earliest days of the pandemic tested positive for the infection.

A study published on Tuesday offers new evidence: Based on an analysis of blood tests, scientists identified seven people in five states who may have been infected well before the first confirmed cases in those states.

If the findings are accurate, however, then they underscore the notion that poor testing in the United States missed most cases during the early weeks of the pandemic.

It is not a surprise that there may have been undocumented cases early in the pandemic, said Sarah Cobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago.

Seven of the samples came from blood donated before the date of the first diagnosis in their states — Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Massachusetts.

The results are consistent with those of another study that identified coronavirus antibodies in blood donated as early as mid-December 2019.

The participants were enrolled in a long-term National Institutes of Health project, called All of Us, that aims to include a million people in the United States in order to increase the representation of minorities in research.

The team also analyzed 1,000 samples of blood from the 2018-19 cold and flu season, and found none that tested positive for antibodies to the coronavirus.

The researchers said they planned to contact the participants to ask about travel history and would continue to analyze additional samples to estimate when the coronavirus reached American shores.

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