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Alleged early SARS-CoV-2
Italian study finds SARS-CoV-2 in clinical samples collected before December 2019

We've seen these claims before.  I can't see how they're possibly true when SARS-CoV-2 was so infectious.
How could it be as widely spread as they claim without having triggered an epidemic?
Are they suggesting it was a pandemic earlier, but not enough people sick to notice, and no one was dying from it?
Boy, won't the conspiracy theory people have fun with that.  (And especially with the association to skin eruptions.)

I don't know if they're seeing some precursor infection, or have contaminated samples or what.
At least at one point in the article, they indicate that the samples failed to be detectable by PCR, indicating that the amount of viral material was very little.  I wonder if they've proven that they wouldn't detect it in, say, similar samples from 1995, or even in the Shroud of Turin.

If you read the article closely, you'll notice that the mutations in the alleged pre-pandemic RNA were the same mutations found in the early pandemic virus in Italy.  That's consistent with the samples being contaminated.  Or it is consistent with Italy having had spontaneous generation of SARS-CoV-2 that didn't create an epidemic until after China had their epidemic.  I hope the research report addresses this.

Note they try to suggest it was related to suspected measles/rubella cases, but then offer no positive evidence that it was.  Indeed, their evidence, if believed, would suggest it is not related.  (And, while some COVID patients may have had skin lesions (and caries, for that matter), it certainly wasn't a common symptom, so why would there be a noticeable number of people with COVID-associated skin lesions, but not notice they (and a lot more) had a cough, pneumonia, etc.?)

As I understand it, this statement in the article is wrong: "Despite the lack of a definitive timeline on when SARS-CoV-2 initially emerged, previous evolutionary studies indicate that the virus likely circulated in China for several months before the first outbreak was recorded in Wuhan, China."

As I recall (and I may be wrong, or different opinions may have been offered), the evolutionary studies suggested a (late?) October origin, some 6 weeks or so before the first known symptom (December 5).  They searched for evidence even earlier than that, of course, and found none.  Nothing I've seen suggested it "circulated in China".

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