Central Europe one possible source, but Italians believe ‘patient X’ arrived from Netherlands
A study of coronavirus DNA by Milan University has found that the strain of the virus that devastated Italy did not arrive from China.
In news that has been unsurprisingly little reported in the UK but was picked up by Reuters, the study – led by Professor Carlo Federico Perno – identified several strains in different areas of Italy, with some similar to strains found in Central Europe – but distinct from the forms isolated in China at the beginning of its outbreak:
Last month, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York said genetic analysis of samples taken from Covid-19 patients in New York City suggested that the source of most of the infections was “untracked transmission between the US and Europe”, according to Science magazine.
An earlier study in the city, by NYU Langone Health in April and reported by Bloomberg, also traced the origin of the cases it studied back to Europe.
Many Italians have long believed that the virus arrived in Italy too early for it to have come from China, with many believing that ‘paziente X’ came to their country from the Netherlands, leading to a rush of cases of ‘atypical pneumonia’. Analysis of German cases also shows a hotspot in a rural area on the Netherlands border, while a Spanish water sample taken in March last year has been found to contain the virus.
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