Why do some folks continue to believe that COVID-19 has been around for a while and that it isn’t as novel a virus as the rest of us know it really is?
The usual suspects…
When was the First Case of COVID-19 in the United States?
While some are wondering if they were seeing COVID-19 in January, some think they were seeing in even earlier.
Were the first cases of COVID-19 here in December?
“Yeah, me too. I’ve been telling almost every patient I see that, well, you know it’s flu season, but it doesn’t seem like you have the flu, it seems like you have a really bad cough. And everyone I’m seeing, it’s like their coughs are worse this winter. And their coughs are lasting for 3 or 4 weeks, instead of 1 or 2 weeks. And something went around this winter that was not the flu. Flu went around too, but there was a really terrible cold going around and you’re right, it is really possible in hindsight that coronavirus has been here this whole time.”Bob Sears
What do you think of when you hear Bob Sears talk about seeing kids with a “really bad cough” that lingers for a month?
Since he wrote a book pushing a non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedule, my first thought is pertussis too…
This has been a fairly bad flu season though, and as early as December, there were high rates of flu in many parts of the United States.
And since it was cold AND flu season, there were already high rates of other cold viruses, including RSV, adenovirus, rhinovirus, enterovirus, and non-COVID-19 types of coronavirus.
Still, that doesn’t prove that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 wasn’t around in December or earlier.
So what evidence do we have?
Well, we have the evidence that the first strains of SARS-CoV-2 emerged in Wuhan, China in November.
“From very early on, it was clear that the nCoV genomes lacked the expected genetic diversity that would occur with repeated zoonotic events from a diverse animal reservoir. The simplest parsimonious explanation for this observation was that there was a single zoonotic spillover event into the human population in Wuhan between mid-Nov and mid-Dec and sustained human-to-human transmission from this point.”Trevor Bedford on Early warnings of novel coronavirus from genomic epidemiology and the global open scientific response
And we know that the first cases in the United States were seen in Washington in mid January.
Wait, how do “we” know that?
“The field of genomic epidemiology focuses on using the genetic sequences of pathogens to understand patterns of transmission and spread. Viruses mutate very quickly and accumulate changes during the process of transmission from one infected individual to another. The novel coronavirus which is responsible for the emerging COVID-19 pandemic mutates at an average of about two mutations per month.”Trevor Bedford on Cryptic transmission of novel coronavirus revealed by genomic epidemiology
We know that because experts can examine the small mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 virus when it emerges in an area.
“We know that Wuhan went from an index case in ~Nov-Dec 2019 to several thousand cases by mid-Jan 2020, thus going from initial seeding event to widespread local transmission in the span of ~9-10 weeks. We now believe that the Seattle area seeding event was ~Jan 15 and we’re now ~7 weeks later.”Trevor Bedford on Cryptic transmission of novel coronavirus revealed by genomic epidemiology
That has helped them track where and when the SARS-CoV-2 virus pops up in each part of the country.
No we don’t have a time machine to test folks in November or December or even earlier, except to test those who submitted specimens in flu studies (which will be done as folks get caught up with testing new samples), but by examining the mutations in the virus, they can tell how long the virus has been spreading in each area.
And that has allowed them to create fairly detailed timelines of SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks in the United States.
Do any of these timelines show COVID-19 cases in the United States in December or early January?
Is there any good reason you should be listening to the folks pushing misinformation about COVID-19?
Of course not!
Not surprisingly, these are the same folks who are well known to push misinformation about vaccines.
But why do they want you to think that SARS-CoV-2 has been around for awhile?
It’s propaganda to make you think that getting COVID-19 isn’t that serious.
Don’t believe them.
More on the First Case of COVID-19 in the United States
- Kids and COVID-19
- Who is Making Up the Novel Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories?
- Anti-Vax Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories
- The AV Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
- About Those Rapid COVID-19 Tests
- When to Call Your Pediatrician – COVID-19 Edition
- Should You Be Tested for COVID-19?
- The race to unravel the biggest coronavirus outbreak in the United States
- The Seattle Flu Study:A Community Based Study of Influenza
- First Covid-19 case happened in November, China government records show – report
- Learning from SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19): Emergence, Disease, Biology, and Antivirals
- Cryptic transmission of novel coronavirus revealed by genomic epidemiology
- Early warnings of novel coronavirus from genomic epidemiology and the global open scientific response
- Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network – SCAN
- Coronavirus in Washington state: A timeline of the outbreak
- Genomic epidemiology of hCoV-19
- Nextstrain real-time tracking of pathogen evolution
- Genomic analysis of COVID-19 spread. Situation report
- SARS-CoV-2 has been introduced to nearly every country around the world
- Genome sequences by date and location
- Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)
- Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 isolate 2019-nCoV/USA-CA2/2020, complete genome
- Snohomish County man has the United States’ first known case of the new coronavirus
- This Week in Virology
- WHO – Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Situation
- CDC – Cases in U.S.
- ECDC – Situation update worldwide
- Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Update: Chronology of a Pandemic
- COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker
- Mapping the novel coronavirus outbreak
- COVID-19 — a timeline of the coronavirus outbreak
- COVID-19 is not a virus, but SARS-CoV-2 is
- Coronavirus Misinformation Tracking Center
- Get smart about COVID-19 misinformation
- WHO – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Myth busters
- Covid-19: A Field Day for Scams and Misinformation