China’s disclosures to the WHO raise questions about the possibility that Covid-19—which has now killed more than 2.3 million people—was already spreading in China as far back as October 2019 and that earlier detection could have helped contain the outbreak before it became a global pandemic.
During the WHO delegation’s visit, investigators said they received medical records from Chinese authorities related to about 92 cases of people from the 233 institutions canvassed by Chinese authorities across Hubei. All 92 had suffered from pneumonia or other Covid-19-like symptoms.
If the 90 cases included Covid-19 infections, it could help explain suspected coronavirus cases that researchers believe occurred in Europe and possibly the U.S. in November and December 2019.
In a recent study, Italian researchers found evidence of Covid-19 infection in a 4-year-old boy from the Milan area who was treated for respiratory symptoms and vomiting on Nov. 30, 2019. Researchers found RNA exactly matching part of the Covid-19 virus while retrospectively testing a respiratory specimen from the boy, along with specimens from other patients.
There might also have been a few cases of Covid-19 in the U.S. as early as in December 2019, weeks ahead of the first confirmed U.S. case on Jan. 19, 2020.