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Coronavirus was in Spain a year before breakout

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A study by Barcelona University (UB), scientists have reported that the new coronavirus was present in wastewater in Barcelona, Spain in March 2019, a finding that, if confirmed, would show that the pathogen had emerged much earlier than previously thought.

The outcome of the UB research would prove that COVID-19 was circulating in Spain long before it was “officially” detected and recorded, according to UB sources.

The UB experts studied weekly samples obtained from two wastewater treatment plants in the regional capital of Catalonia, under the premise that there are large amounts of the coronavirus genome in faeces.

“The SARS-CoV-2 genome levels clearly coincided with the evolution of COVID-19 cases in the population,” explained the coordinator of the research, Albert Bosch.

However, having found the presence of viruses before cases were diagnosed shows, according to specialists, that many infected with COVID-19 could have been mistaken for influenza patients in primary health care services.

“Having detected the spread of SARS-CoV-2 a month in advance would have allowed a better response to the pandemic,” Bosch stressed.

But independent experts who reviewed the findings said they doubted the claim. The study was flawed, they said, and other lines of evidence strongly suggest the virus emerged in China late last year.

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