Breaking News
0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your Investing.com experience. Save up to 40% More details

WHO asks for re-checks of research on when coronavirus first surfaced in Italy

CoronavirusJun 01, 2021 11:17AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
3/3 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a mask walks in the Duomo square as Lombardy tightens restrictions due to a surge in the number of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in the region, in Milan, Italy, March 5, 2021. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo/File Photo 2/3

By Emilio Parodi

MILAN (Reuters) -Samples from a study suggesting the coronavirus was circulating outside China by October 2019 have been re-tested at the World Health Organization's (WTO) request, two scientists who led the Italian research said.

There is growing international pressure to learn more about the origins of the pandemic that has killed more than 3 million people worldwide and U.S. President Joe Biden last week ordered his aides to find answers.

The WHO said on Friday experts were preparing a proposal on the next studies to be carried out into the origins of the virus, but that there was no set timeline. [nL2N2ND20N]

The UN body reacted to Biden's announcement that intelligence agencies were pursuing rival theories, including the possibility of a laboratory accident in China, by saying the search was being "poisoned by politics".

COVID-19 was first identified in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, while Italy's first patient was detected on Feb. 21 last year in a small town near Milan.

However, a study published last year suggested antibodies to either the virus or a variant were detected in Italy in 2019.

That prompted Chinese state media to suggest the virus might not have originated in China, although the Italian researchers stressed the findings raised questions about when the virus first emerged rather than where.

"The WHO asked us if we could share the biological material and if we could re-run the tests in an independent laboratory. We accepted," Giovanni Apolone, scientific director of one of the lead institutions, the Milan Cancer Institute (INT), said.

The WHO's request has not previously been reported.

"WHO is in contact with the researchers that had published the original paper. A collaboration with partner laboratories has been set up for further testing," a WHO spokesman said.

The spokesman said the WHO was aware that the researchers are planning to publish a follow-up report "in the near future".

He said the UN agency has contacted all researchers who have published or provided information on samples collected in 2019 that were reported to have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, but does not yet have the final interpretation of the results.

The Italian researchers' findings, published by the INT's scientific magazine Tumori Journal, showed neutralising antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in blood taken from healthy volunteers in Italy in October 2019 during a lung cancer screening trial.

Most of the volunteers were from Lombardy, the northern region around Milan, which was the first and hardest hit by the virus in Italy.

"None of the studies published so far have ever questioned the geographical origin," Apolone told Reuters.

"The growing doubt is that the virus, probably less powerful compared to later months, was circulating in China long before the reported cases," Apolone added.

DUTCH TEST

The WHO chose the laboratory of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam for the re-test, Emanuele Montomoli, co-author of the original study and professor of Public Health at the Molecular Medicine Department in the University of Siena, said.

The Erasmus University did not reply to requests for comment.

Italian researchers sent the team in Rotterdam 30 biological samples from October-December 2019 that they had found positive, 30 samples from the same period they had tested negative and 30 samples from as far back as 2018, negative.

"We sent them blind, that means our colleagues did not know which samples were positive and which negative," Apolone said.

"They rechecked our samples with commercial tests, which are much less sensitive than the ones we devised and validated," Montomoli said.

Despite the differences in the two detection methods, both Italian scientists said they were satisfied with the results, delivered to them in late February, adding that they could not comment further until the team of Italian and Dutch scientists have published their findings.

"We did not say in our study that we could establish without a doubt that the coronavirus, later sequenced in Wuhan, was already circulating in Italy in October," Montomoli said.

"We only found the response to the virus, namely the antibodies. So we can say that this coronavirus or a very similar one, perhaps a less transmissible variant, was circulating here in October," he added.

WHO asks for re-checks of research on when coronavirus first surfaced in Italy
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email