Scientists in Italy have identified a sample of the novel coronavirus collected from a young boy late last year that they say is genetically identical to the earliest strain isolated in the Chinese city of Wuhan almost a year ago.
The sample was collected on December 5, 2019 in Milan from a boy who was first thought to have contracted measles, according to the researchers from the University of Milan.
It was a “100 per cent match” of a genome segment of the first Sars-CoV-2 viral strain collected from a seafood market worker in Wuhan on December 26, they said.
“These findings, in agreement with other evidence of early Covid-19 spread in Europe, advance the beginning of the outbreak to late autumn 2019,” said the team led by Professor Elisabetta Tanzi.
We identified severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 RNA in an oropharyngeal swab specimen collected from a child with suspected measles in early December 2019, ≈3 months before the first identified coronavirus disease case in Italy. This finding expands our knowledge on timing and mapping of novel coronavirus transmission pathways.