A new study has suggested that the global pandemic COVID-19 started spreading in the US much before it was officially declared by the Chinese government. The study on the blood samples collected by the Red Cross revealed that the spread started before December 17.

China reported its first case of coronavirus towards December end last year. The fatal virus has infected over 63.8 million people worldwide and killed more than 1.48 million. US alone recorded 13.7 million cases.

SARS-CoV-2
Novel Coronavirus (Representational Picture) Pixabay

COVID-19 Antibodies Found in 39 Samples collected After December 13

The startling revelations were made after blood samples collected between December 13 and January 17 were studied. The blood collected by the Red Cross was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be tested for antibodies to coronavirus. The blood was collected from the donors in California, Oregon and Washington.

The testing found that antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19 were found in 39 samples from the collected blood samples. "The findings of this report suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been present in the US in December 2019, earlier than previously recognised," the research paper said.

Another 67 samples taken between December 30 and January 17 from donors in the Midwest and Northeast were positive for antibodies, reported Daily Mail.

The first case of coronavirus in US was reported on January 19, nearly 12 days after the World Health Organization (WHO) spoke about a pneumonia, caused by a new virus, making people sick in China.

COVID-19 Was Also Found in Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin Samples From December

The Daily Mail reported that the study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, tested samples from 7,389 blood donations for antibodies to the virus. Antibodies were present in 106 - 1.4 percent - of the donations collected between mid-December and mid-January, reported the outlet.

The researchers tested 90 of the Red Cross samples for antibodies very specific to SARS-CoV-2 - immune proteins to ensure that they were not cross-reactive with test for other coronaviruses. Of the 90, 84 samples were positive for these very specific antibodies.

The samples taken from the blood donors in Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin or Iowa and Connecticut or Rhode Island between December 17 and December 30, also revealed coronavirus antibodies in 67 samples.

The new development comes amidst leaked documents by CNN revealing that China had underreported the cases by several thousands. Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations had told the outlet that China had made politically motivated errors in how they handled the pandemic.