Italian research finds SARS-CoV-2 in scientific samples collected earlier than December 2019

A brand new Environmental Research journal analysis paper discusses the affiliation of the extreme acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) with morbilliform pores and skin rash. These findings additionally offered proof of the early circulation of SARS-CoV-2 in Northern Italy previous to the beginning of the coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Study: Molecular evidence for SARS-CoV-2 in samples collected from patients with morbilliform eruptions since late 2019 in Lombardy, northern Italy. Image Credit: OneSideProFoto /

Research: Molecular evidence for SARS-CoV-2 in samples collected from patients with morbilliform eruptions since late 2019 in Lombardy, northern Italy. Picture Credit score: OneSideProFoto /


In December 2019, SARS-CoV-2 was first remoted in China following reviews of hospitalized sufferers experiencing atypical pneumonia. Quickly after, molecular evolutionary experiments revealed that SARS-CoV-2 probably spilled over to people from a bat reservoir; nevertheless, its unique spillover mechanism stays debatable.

Regardless of the dearth of a definitive timeline on when SARS-CoV-2 initially emerged, earlier evolutionary research point out that the virus probably circulated in China for a number of months earlier than the primary outbreak was recorded in Wuhan, China. Quickly after, an rising variety of circumstances have been reported in a number of European and North American nations by mid-January 2020.

Italy was the primary European nation to report sustained SARS-CoV-2 group transmission. This nation subsequently grew to become the epicenter of the epidemic in Europe, with Lombardy being essentially the most affected.

The SARS-CoV-2 pressure that circulated in Lombardy, in addition to a lot of Europe quickly after its preliminary detection in Italy, differed from the Wuhan-Hu-1 pressure, which was the reference genome initially recognized in China. The truth is, among the completely different mutations current inside this pressure included A23403G (Spike D614G), C14408T (RdRp P323L), and C3037T (synonymous). This pressure, which has since been named B.1 in Pangolin and 20A in NextStrain, is sometimes called the DG1111 haplotype and contains an αβ mutational signature.

A number of research recommend that SARS-CoV-2 was circulating in many countries previous to its official detection. The truth is, SARS-CoV-2 ribonucleic acid (RNA) has been detected in wastewater samples obtained in Brazil and Northern Italy in 2019.

SARS-CoV-2 was additionally detected within the respiratory samples of a French affected person with hemoptysis, the lungs and blood of a affected person in Milan who died of acute circulatory insufficiency, and oropharyngeal swabs of a Lombardy little one with suspected measles in December 2019. Viral RNA and antigens have additionally been detected in paraffin-embedded pores and skin biopsies of ladies in Milan with dermatosis in November 2019.

A number of pores and skin manifestations have been reported in sufferers recognized with COVID-19. These manifestations can happen at any stage of the illness.

Along with the variable length, prognosis, and severity of those dermatological results, these signs may even happen within the absence of the widespread respiratory symptoms of COVID-19, thus inflicting analysis to be much more difficult.

In 2019, suspected measles and rubella circumstances have been two occasions increased as in comparison with the typical of the earlier two years. Furthermore, the share of suspected circumstances that examined unfavourable elevated from 30% to 70% throughout the first wave of the pandemic and 100% by 2021.

The elevated incidence of each measles and rubella, mixed with the pores and skin manifestations related to COVID-19, led the researchers of the present research to research whether or not COVID-19 may trigger morbilliform pores and skin eruptions.

Concerning the research

The present research was performed by the Community of Italian Reference Laboratories for Measles and Rubella (MoRoNet)- and World Well being Group (WHO)-accredited Subnational Reference Laboratory for measles and rubella surveillance.

A complete of 435 urine, serum, and oropharyngeal samples have been collected from 156 sufferers examined for SARS-CoV-2. All samples included within the present evaluation have been unfavourable for each measles and rubella.

Samples from 44 circumstances have been collected between August 2019, which coincided with the surprising enhance in suspected measles/rubella circumstances, in addition to late February 2020, which have been thought-about pre-pandemic circumstances.

Twelve samples have been additionally collected between March 2020 and March 2021 and have been known as pandemic circumstances. Moreover, samples collected from 100 circumstances between August 2018 and July 2019 have been used as controls.

A complete of 289 urine and oropharyngeal samples have been analyzed for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA adopted by sequence evaluation. Sera from 38 pre-pandemic, 98 management, and 10 pandemic circumstances have been analyzed for anti-SARS-CoV-2 immunoglobulin A (IgA), IgM, and IgG.

Plaque discount neutralization assays have been used to find out neutralizing antibody titers.

Research findings

Constructive SARS-CoV-2 an infection was recognized in 11 pre-pandemic and two pandemic circumstances. Of those 13 topics, viral RNA was detected in urine and respiratory samples for six and 7 sufferers, respectively. Notably, viral RNA was detected within the urine of solely pandemic circumstances.

Of the 11 pre-pandemic samples that examined optimistic for SARS-CoV-2, 9 have been collected in 2019. The earliest SARS-CoV-2-positive urine pattern was collected on September 12, 2019, from an eight-month-old little one who additionally had detectable serum ranges of SARS-CoV-2 IgG and IgM.

Not one of the SARS-CoV-2-positive samples have been optimistic when the Actual-Time polymerase chain response (PCR) diagnostic protocol was used. This means that every one samples exhibited low viral hundreds that have been lower than the detection threshold degree.

4 pre-pandemic samples have been optimistic for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, with IgM most often detected. Solely one among these serum samples contained partially neutralizing antibodies.

Conversely, neutralizing antibodies have been detected in two pandemic samples. Nonetheless, each of those samples have been SARS-CoV-2 RNA-negative.

Twelve samples collected earlier than the primary aforementioned SARS-CoV-2-positive pattern was collected on September 12, 2019, have been optimistic for IgA, IgM, and IgG. Solely 4 of those samples exhibited partial neutralization.

Early pre-pandemic samples that examined optimistic for SARS-CoV-2 have been largely localized Brescia and Milan, with most Milanese circumstances localized in north-western Milan. All pandemic samples have been additionally localized within the province of Milan.

Out of the 11 pre-pandemic circumstances, 5 have been collected between October 12, 2019, and October 23, 2019, whereas all pandemic samples have been collected throughout early 2021.

A lot of the viral sequences have been obtained from pre-pandemic samples and exhibited a number of main mutations together with C3037T, A23403G, and C14408T that belonged to the β group of mutations. Pre-pandemic SARS-CoV-2 strains are believed to be roughly six mutations away from the SARS-CoV-2 progenitor pressure and belong to the αβ lineage, which has produced all main circulating strains thus far.


The present research confirms that SARS-CoV-2 was circulating in Northern Italy by late 2019, as confirmed by the presence of SARS-CoV-2 genetic materials in a number of urine and oropharyngeal swab samples. Importantly, not one of the samples that examined optimistic for SARS-CoV-2 have been obtained from sufferers with a historical past of worldwide journey.

The research findings additionally recommend an affiliation between morbilliform eruptions and SARS-CoV-2 an infection. Nonetheless, future research are wanted to raised perceive the connection between any such pores and skin rash and COVID-19.

Future retrospective research in areas with early SARS-CoV-2 circulation that make the most of metagenomic strategies are wanted to precisely decide the evolutionary historical past and time of SARS-CoV-2 emergence.

Journal reference:
  • Amendola, A., Canuti, M., Bianchi, S., et al. (2022). Molecular proof for SARS-CoV-2 in samples collected from sufferers with morbilliform eruptions since late 2019 in Lombardy, northern Italy. Environmental Analysis. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2022.113979.



Leave a Reply