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Evidence emerges of COVID in France prior to the famous "China trail"
French doctors checked whether there is SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in the materials of old nasopharyngeal swabs that are stored in hospitals in the country.
Paris, Eiffel Tower / Photo: CC0 Public Domain
Officially, the first diagnosis of COVID-19 in France was made on March 24, 2020. The authors of the new study argue that in fact the first cases of the disease, then still unnamed, occurred in the country much earlier.
The authors of the new scientific work discovered the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the saved material of a nasopharyngeal swab, which was taken from the patient at the end of December 2019. They talked about this in the Journal of Antimicrobial Agents.
Scientists point out that finding the first case of infection in a specific country is very important from an epidemiological point of view. Understanding how the virus spreads radically depends on this.
The patient, who was diagnosed with the SARS-CoV-2 virus late, was a 42-year-old male. He was admitted to a Paris hospital on December 27, 2019 with blood in sputum, fever and headache. Presumably, he contracted the coronavirus between December 16 and 21.
The man has never been to China, the last time he traveled in August 2019, it was a trip to Algeria. The absence of a "Chinese trace" in the described case suggests that by the end of December there were "own", not imported cases of COVID-19 in the country, scientists point out. At the same time, they do not say that we are talking about the independent emergence of the virus in France, the fact of its initial entry into the country from the outside is not put on the agenda of the discussion.
The patient was sent home two days after hospitalization, but a smear was saved at the hospital. It came to light when France raised all stored swabs from ICU patients starting December 2, 2019 for verification. Only one of them turned out to be positive.