Has COVID been around longer than we think?

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 10:59 AM CDT
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(WAFF) - With some claiming to have had COVID-like symptoms even before the coronavirus outbreak, many are questioning whether the virus has been around longer than we think...

“A lot of people... they were very sick, they thought it looked like the flu, but it wasn’t a flu," says Dr. Ali Hassoun, an infectious disease specialist at Huntsville Hospital.

He says it’s possible coronavirus may have been around in small numbers here and there in the 2 to 3 months before the outbreak, but it’s not likely it was in the U.S. much before that. Had it been, Dr. Hassoun says doctors would have seen more COVID-resistant antibodies in patients later on.

“In March... our positivity rate for antibodies was about 2 percent, for example. So, it was extremely low," he says. "If there was significant infections happening in November and December, we would have seen much higher [rates], and we didn’t see it.”

In response to any mysterious, non-flu cases, Dr. Hassoun says there are many, many viral infections, some of which can be hard to detect.

Sometimes it’s finding the right test that’s the challenge.

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