Could Covid 19 have been knocking around for months already?

My mum was badly ill back at the start of February. The illness had all the symptoms of Covid 19, the fever, the bad chest etc. Thankfully she pulled through, but it has taken her weeks to get over it. Many of us will have similar stories of unusual seasonal illness that we are now wondering, could it have been Covid 19?

When your body fights of a virus it produces antibodies. They are working on a test to detect these antibodies, in simple terms this test will let you if you have already had it. The test will not be available to the rest of us for quite a while, but the best-case scenario would be a simple at-home test to let you know if you have already had Covid 19.

A new report from researchers at Oxford University thinks that 50% of the UK population could have already been exposed to Covid 19:

The new model from Oxford University suggests the virus was circulating in the UK by mid-January, around two weeks before the first reported case and a month before the first reported death.

And the research suggested that less than one thousand of those with Covid-19 became ill enough to need treatment in hospital, with the vast majority developing mild symptoms or none at all.

This means it could have had enough time to have spread widely, with many people in the country acquiring immunity.

Can I stress that this is one of the many competing theories around Covid 19. We will not know for certain until we have the antibody test.

Reports from Italian doctors say they were seeing symptoms as early as November:

Remuzzi says he is now hearing information about it from general practitioners. “They remember having seen very strange pneumonia, very severe, particularly in old people in December and even November,” he says. “This means that the virus was circulating, at least in [the northern region of] Lombardy and before we were aware of this outbreak occurring in China.”

This has been seized on by the Chinese government who are trying to deflect blame away from them.

Whatever the truth is we do need to stick to the self-isolation. Remember the key aim of this strategy is to stop hospitals being overwhelmed with cases and not being able to cope. So we have to stick with the rules for now and keep safe.

Photo by padrinan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA