SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was found in Barcelona wastewater samples taken in March 2019. This is stated in the work of scientists of the University of Barcelona, published on the portal medRxiv. Scientists believe that doctors all year mistakenly diagnosed the flu in patients with COVID-19.
Analysis of wastewater samples taken and frozen on March 12, 2019, at the treatment facilities showed that they have the genetic material of the new coronavirus. This means that the virus quietly circulated several months before the outbreak in Wuhan.
“SARS-CoV-2 was discovered in the sewage system of Barcelona long before the announcement of the first case of COVID-19. This indicates the presence of infection in the population before the first imported case was registered, ”the researchers said.
Virologists analyzed samples taken from January 2018 to December 2019.
“All samples were negative for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 genomes, with the exception of samples dated March 12, 2019, where SARS-CoV-2 levels were very low, but clearly positive,” the researchers report.
Scientists say that doctors most likely made the wrong diagnoses, and the Catalans suffered from COVID-19 as early as 2019.
“Those infected with COVID-19 could have been mistakenly diagnosed with primary health care influenza, which contributed to the transmission of the infection,” said Albert Bosch, president of the Spanish Society of Virologists.
Researchers concluded that the virus is stored in human excrement, so regular wastewater samples will help to control the epidemiological situation. Although COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, it has been shown that a large amount of the coronavirus genome is present in the feces, which subsequently ends up in wastewater. This fact makes wastewater tests a potential tool for early warning of virus circulation, especially given the large number of asymptomatic infectious patients.
“In the case of Barcelona, detecting the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in a month would improve our response to the pandemic,” concluded Albert Bosch.
Earlier, Rambler reported that 6,791 new cases of coronavirus have been detected in Russia.