Mysterious Italian woman who fell ill with covid before the pandemic

Experts consider a young girl from Italy to be “patient 1” with coronavirus, but traces of her are lost, and WHO researchers cannot find her.

Experts believe that she contracted Covid-19 about a few weeks earlier than the outbreak of the coronavirus occurred in Wuhan. A 25-year-old Milan resident went to the hospital with complaints of a sore throat and skin rash in November 2019, one month before the first case of the deadly virus was discovered. She underwent a skin biopsy for histological examination. Six months later, doctors found traces of the Covid-19 virus in this sample, the results of the study were published by the British Journal of Dermatology in January.

The desire of experts to examine this girl is quite understandable, but … traces of her are lost, the Wall Street Journal claims. Scientists explain that further investigation of this case could help determine how long the coronavirus has been circulating in China and other countries, even before the reported outbreak in the Wuhan market in December 2019. A skin sample from a girl who tested positive for covid is in the office of a Milan researcher. It provides a sample of scattered data from the early days of the pandemic.

Marion Koopmans, a Dutch virologist and member of the WHO-led group on the Italian case, said in April: “You cannot ignore this.” According to the specialist, this case provided enough evidence for an extensive investigation into whether the virus was spread in Italy before November 2019.

However, it is not possible to find the young Italian woman. The hospital in Milan and the university that monitored the case say there is no data on the woman. Dermatologist Raffaele Gianotti, who observed her, died in March last year. His wife claims that his death is not related to the coronavirus.

A group of scientists led by WHO suggests that it is possible to identify similar cases of the disease in other countries, which were recorded before the first infected with coronavirus was discovered in early December 2019. China said its own part of the WHO-led study is over, and the US, EU and WHO are not calling for further research.

Studying previous cases, scientists say, could help establish a timetable for the initial spread of the virus. And in this context, the Italian, whose skin sample tested positive in June 2020, a few months after her illness, remains one of the most interesting first cases of the disease.

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