Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 2021; 25 (8): 3342-3349

DOI: 10.26355/eurrev_202104_25746

SARS-CoV-2 was already circulating in Italy, in early December 2019

L. Gragnani, M. Monti, S.A. Santini, S. Marri, F. Madia, S. Lorini, L. Petraccia, C. Stasi, U. Basile, V. Luti, F. Pagliai, R. Saccardi, A.L. Zignego

Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, MASVE Interdepartmental Hepatology Center, University of Florence, Center for Research and Innovation CRIA-MASVE, AOU Careggi, Florence, Italy. annalinda.zignego@unifi.it


OBJECTIVE: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) identified in China, in December 2019 determines COronaVIrus Disease 19 (COVID-19). Whether or not the virus was present in Italy earlier the first autochthonous COVID-19 case was diagnosed is still uncertain. We aimed to identify anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in sera collected from 4th November 2019 to 9th March 2020, in order to assess the possible spread of the virus in Italy earlier than the first official national diagnosis.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were evaluated in retrospective serum samples from 234 patients with liver diseases (Hep-patients) and from 56 blood donors (BDs). We used two rapid serologic tests which were confirmed by a validated chemoluminescence assay.

RESULTS: Via rapid tests, we found 10/234 (4.3%) IgG-positive and 1/234 (0.4%) IgM-positive cases in the Hep-patient group. Two/56 (3.6%) IgG-positive and 2/56 (3.6%) IgM-positive cases were detected in BD group. Chemoluminescence confirmed IgG-positivity in 3 Hep-patients and 1 BD and IgM-positivity in 1 Hep-patient. RNAemia was not detected in any of the subjects, rendering the risk of transfusion transmission negligible.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest an early circulation of SARS-CoV-2 in Italy, before the first COVID-19 cases were described in China. Rapid tests have multiple benefits; however, a confirmation assay is required to avoid false positive results.

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L. Gragnani, M. Monti, S.A. Santini, S. Marri, F. Madia, S. Lorini, L. Petraccia, C. Stasi, U. Basile, V. Luti, F. Pagliai, R. Saccardi, A.L. Zignego
SARS-CoV-2 was already circulating in Italy, in early December 2019

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci
Year: 2021
Vol. 25 - N. 8
Pages: 3342-3349
DOI: 10.26355/eurrev_202104_25746