Following the global outbreak of COVID-19, most of the media’s attention has been focused on the development after the first confirmed case of the disease in China. Please note that I refer to the first “confirmed” case, not the first case.
Recent reports indicate that COVID-19 was found in many countries before it was first reported in China. So, here is the question, where is the first case? When did it begin to spread?
Let’s take a look at some interesting cases outside China.
In the U.S., the County of Santa Clara Medical Examiner-Coroner identified three deaths with COVID-19 on February 6. That’s 23 days before the country announced its first fatality from the virus in Kirkland, Washington, on February 29.
The county’s chief medical officer, Dr. Sara Cody, said two of the individuals had no travel history that would have exposed them to the virus. Cody expressed belief that the novel coronavirus was circulating in the San Francisco Bay Area as early as January. The two deaths may have been written off as flu because there were significant numbers of influenza cases at the time.
Nearly a month before the first officially recorded cases in Europe, a 42-year-old fishmonger showed up at a hospital in suburban Paris coughing, with a fever and having a hard time breathing. He was later tested positive for the coronavirus. It was December 27, 2019.
But the first suspected case of a COVID-19 infection in France could date even further back in time. Doctor Michel Schmitt, head of the medical imaging department at the Albert Schweitzer hospital in east France’s Colmar, reviewed 2,456 chest scans performed between November 1, 2019, and April 30, 2020. According to the retrospective study, the first COVID-19 infections were identified on November 16 last year at the hospital.
Also in November, the mayor of Belleville, New Jersey, Michael Melham fell sick. He recently shared his experience publicly, saying that the symptoms he exhibited at the time were that of COVID-19. That’s over two months before the first confirmed case was reported in the U.S… Melham has tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, further reinforcing his belief.
Researchers at the University College London Genetics Institute have published a study titled “Emergence of genomic diversity and recurrent mutations in SARS-CoV-2” and said that the pandemic started between October 6, 2019 and December 11, 2019, which corresponds to the time the virus jumped from an animal host to humans.
Hoover senior fellow at Stanford University Victor Davis Hanson also pointed to reports of last fall’s flu season that he believes may have been the coronavirus, then unbeknownst to doctors.
Let’s look at this map again. Before China’s first confirmed COVID-19 case, similar infections had already been detected in other countries — – even before the disease came to be known by its current name. So, when did the novel coronavirus originate? Where did the first case appear? Science has the key to a satisfactory answer. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll never get to the bottom of things. Even the first cases of some worldwide infectious diseases, such as AIDS and Influenza A virus have yet to find their sources. People around the world uniting to fight against the pandemic could be the only right thing to do right now in the face of the virus.