COVID-19 may have been present in the U.S. in December 2019, weeks earlier than previously thought

9-Dec-2020 5:05 PM EST, by Newswise

Fact Check By: Craig Jones, Newswise

Truthfulness: True


A study published in November 2020 analyzed SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in 2019 blood bank donations and found that the novel coronavirus may have been present in the U.S. weeks earlier than scientists realized.

Claim Publisher and Date: Clinical Infectious Diseases on 2020-11-30

The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported on January 19, 2020, when a person returned from China. According to a study published on Nov. 30 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the arrival of the novel coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic may have been in the U.S. weeks earlier than previously thought. In the study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed American Red Cross blood donations for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies between Dec. 13, 2019, and Jan. 17, 2020, and found evidence of the virus in 1.1% of blood donations. It should be noted, however, that the presence of the virus in the U.S. at the time does not mean it was spreading throughout any local community in the United States.

As reported by Madison Dapcevich in Snopes...

While the findings suggested that the virus may have been present in the U.S. much earlier than previously believed, it is not possible to know whether the infection was spread through the community or associated with travel.

“It is not possible to determine whether the potential SARS-CoV-2 infections suggested by this study may have been community or travel-associated,” said Dr. Susan Stramer, vice president of Scientific Affairs at the American Red Cross, in a news release. “A previous survey of blood donors, conducted to help understand travel practices, determined that less than 3% of respondents reported travel outside of the U.S. within the 28 days prior to donation, and of those reporting travel, only 5% traveled to Asia.

Though the tests were looking for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies specifically, there are seven known types of other coronaviruses that have some similarities, so it is possible a level of cross-reactivity occurred. According to the Virginia Department of Health, most people become infected with coronaviruses that cause the common cold at some point during their lives. And because the blood samples were anonymous to researchers, none could be considered “true positives” — this can only be determined from a person who had received a positive molecular diagnostic test.

Furthermore, donations may also not represent all blood donors or donations in these states, so they cannot be used to generalize all blood donors during the dates in the report and cannot make an inference on national or state levels of infection rates during the study period.

Register for reporter access to contact details
Filters close

Showing results

110 of 21
Released: 15-Jan-2021 8:55 AM EST
The First Dose of the Pfizer Vaccine Gives About 50% COVID Protection, Not 91% Claimed by Those Who Want to Speed Up Immunization

The NEJM paper actually states that the efficacy between the first and second doses was found to be 52 percent when given 21 days apart. After the second dose, the efficacy raises to 95 percent.

Released: 5-Jan-2021 1:50 PM EST
Due to the COVID surge, ambulances in the Los Angeles area are refusing to transfer patients with no chance of survival

As the surge of COVID-19 cases increase exponentially across the U.S., the hospitals in the Los Angeles metro area have been particularly hit hard. There are now more than 7,600 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Los Angeles County. Ambulance crews in the area have been advised to cut back on their use of oxygen and to not bring to hospitals patients who have virtually no chance of survival in order to increase capacity and triage care to focus on the sickest patients.

Released: 21-Dec-2020 3:30 PM EST
New COVID-19 strain NOT a result of the vaccines, but it is more contagious

Hours after the United Kingdom raised alarm about the new variant of the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, social media, including Twitter, is brimming with theories on the timing of this news. Many people have remarked that the timing of this news coming on the heels of the new vaccines is suspicious.

Released: 11-Dec-2020 3:10 PM EST
Fox News host Laura Ingraham falsely claims restrictions on eating out are not supported by science

On December 8th on Fox News, during a transition between her show and Sean Hannity, TV host Laura Ingraham wrongly claimed restrictions on eating out are not supported by science. The comment came after Hannity made reference to Ingraham’s on-air interview the previous day with a Los Angeles restaurant owner. The claim is inaccurate. There is evidence that restaurants and bars are among the most common places for the virus spread.

Released: 10-Dec-2020 2:30 PM EST
Claim that the FDA found that coronavirus vaccines awaiting approval could cause death is majorly misleading

GreenMedInfo, an alternative health website that has published articles claiming vaccines cause autism, published an article on December 6th warning about the adverse side effects of the coronavirus vaccines, including death. We rate this article as mostly false and misleading.

Released: 9-Dec-2020 5:05 PM EST
COVID-19 may have been present in the U.S. in December 2019, weeks earlier than previously thought

A study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases suggested that coronavirus infections may have been present in the U.S. in December 2019, earlier than scientists previously thought.

Released: 3-Dec-2020 2:30 PM EST
Sen. Paul's Tweet on Natural Infection vs. COVID-19 Vaccines is Misleading

On November 17, U.S. Sentator Rand Paul of Kentucky compared the effectiveness of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines with "naturally acquired COVID-19" on Twitter. He folllowed-up by asking, "Why does the left accept immune theory when it comes to vaccines, but not when discussing naturally acquired immunity?" Besides ignoring the point of vaccines, which is to protect the public BEFORE they get sick, the comparison of natural COVID-19 infection and vaccine efficacy is inacurate. Reinfections have not been confirmed and the efficacy of naturally-acquired immunity is still not understood.

Released: 1-Dec-2020 2:40 PM EST
The claim that COVID-19 vaccines will cause more severe disease through antibody-dependent enhancement is not yet supported

ADE has not been shown to occur in individuals that received COVID-19 vaccines to date.

Released: 17-Nov-2020 2:30 PM EST
Elon Musk's claim that COVID testing is "bogus" is not accurate

Elon Musk, Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer has repeatedly played down the severity of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. On Thursday, Musk said that a rapid antigen test results from the same machine and the same test showed he tested positive twice and then negative twice all on the same day. He questioned the validy of the test by suggesting "something extremely bogus is going on."

Released: 30-Oct-2020 12:10 PM EDT
Are a third of the excess deaths this year not linked to COVID-19? Yes. Are they directly linked to the lockdown? It's complicated.

The article accurately sites a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which examined the number of excess deaths in the U.S from March to August, which claimed a 20% increase. Nearly a third of that increase did not have the coronavirus as the underlying cause. However there is no scientific evidence that the deaths were a direct result of lockdown measures.

Showing results

110 of 21