US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — According to official data, the first cases of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection were recorded in December 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan. In January, the epidemic began to actively capture the whole of the PRC, and by the 20th of January the virus had spread to Europe.
The first dead patient with Covid-19 in the EU became known on February 15: an 80-year-old tourist who arrived in Hubei province (at that time the outbreak epicenter) and was hospitalized on January 25 died in France.
However, according to a new study by French doctors published in the journal International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, at least one case of Covid-19 in France can be found at the end of December 2019 – a month before the first patient was officially identified there.
“It is believed that the Covid-19 epidemic began in France at the end of January 2020. We are reporting the case of a patient hospitalized in December 2019 to reanimate our hospital in the north of Paris with hemoptysis without an etiological diagnosis. Diagnosis by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction for him was performed retrospectively on a stored respiratory sample, which was confirmed by Covid-19. Based on this, it seems that the Covid-19 epidemic began much earlier,” the authors of the work write.
Thus, the French government reported the first confirmed cases of the disease associated with SARS-CoV-2, January 24 – while both patients had a history of trips to Wuhan, China. “Covid-19 is most commonly found in influenza-like illness (ILI). When China faced an outbreak of coronavirus, European countries struggled with seasonal flu. Since the clinical symptoms are similar between them, we decided to look retrospectively for SARS-CoV-2 in respiratory samples collected in the intensive care units of our hospital, ”the doctors said.
Doctors examined the medical records of patients admitted to the intensive care unit with GPA from December 2, 2019 to January 16, 2020 and a negative RT-PCR analysis during hospitalization. “All biological samples collected from the respiratory tract of patients in our hospital are frozen at minus 80 ° C and stored for four years in case of need for further analysis. Samples taken from patients with symptoms such as fever, fever above 38.5 ° C, cough, rhinitis, sore throat or myalgia, as well as a symptom of frosted glass, were subjected to RT-PCR SARS-COV-2 ″, – is added to the work.
A total of 14 people from 58 who were admitted to this medical facility in connection with the GPP were included in the analysis. One sample taken from a 42-year-old Algerian who lived in France for many years and traded in fish showed a positive result for coronavirus. The patient suffered from asthma and type 2 diabetes. On December 27, 2019, he was admitted to the emergency department with hemoptysis, cough, headache and fever, developing over four days. Conducted computed tomography revealed a symptom of “frosted glass” on two sides in the lower lobes of the lungs. The man was discharged from intensive care on December 29.
At the time of hospitalization, the patient also observed lymphopenia (a decrease in the concentration of lymphocytes in the blood), elevated levels of C-reactive protein and fibrinogen (a soluble and transparent component of blood serum, the basis of blood clots), while calcitonin remained within normal limits. However, the pathogen was not identified in the sputum sample taken in the emergency room. “Upon admission to the hospital, the patient had clinical signs and radiological patterns that were often found in the Chinese and Italian groups [according to coronavirus],” the doctors noted.
The study emphasizes that the identification of the first infected is of great epidemiological interest, since this can radically change the picture of the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in France and Europe as a whole. In addition, experts add, the lack of communication with China and recent trips abroad (the patient described above last traveled somewhere outside France in August 2019) suggest that the disease has already begun to spread among the population of the republic in December.
“In order to avoid any false positive result, we took all standard precautions and confirmed this with two methods and different personnel. We also limited our analyzes to only a few samples and decided to limit the selected records to patients from the intensive care unit and intensive care unit with symptoms similar to Covid-19 and the corresponding CT results, although most people infected with coronavirus actually have mild symptoms. <…> Finally, we conducted a study in the north of Paris, whose inhabitants faced a particularly strong outbreak of Covid-19. These limitations may explain why we were able to identify only one person infected with SARS-CoV-2 from the entire population,” the doctors explained.
As the authors conclude, subsequent studies should accurately establish the actual beginning of the coronavirus epidemic in France and analyze “potentially undetected deaths that could have occurred during that period.”
“Covid-19 is considered responsible for 86,334 cases and 12,210 deaths (as of April 10, 2020) in France, but our results show that these numbers may be underestimated. Two recent studies have shown that about 18-23% of infected SARS-CoV-2 were asymptomatic.”
Thus, scientists conclude that the results of the work confirm that many asymptomatic patients were not diagnosed in January 2020 and contributed to the spread of the coronavirus epidemic throughout the country and probably throughout Europe.
According to the latest data , in France more than 170 thousand confirmed cases of coronavirus infection have been detected; it ranks fifth in the list of countries most affected by Covid-19. Killed 25 thousand patients.
A study by French doctors was commented on by the World Health Organization, calling such news “unsurprising.” “It gives a whole new picture in everything,” said WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier at a UN briefing in Geneva. “The findings help us better understand the potential circulation of the virus.” The expert called on other countries to also check records made at the end of 2019 about cases of pneumonia of unknown origin, as this would provide a “new and clearer picture” of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Previously, scientists discovered that SARS-CoV-2 mutated and became more contagious, and also described the immune response spectrum of patients who managed to recover from Covid-19.
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