Health: The Early History of the Pandemic

The Story:

Fortunately, the danger posed to much of the population of the world by the Covid-19 pandemic seems at last to be receding in many countries. But people — including public health experts around the world — are still struggling to understand its history.


The date of the first confirmed infection in the United States is January 21, 2021, in Washington State. The patient diagnosed that day had just returned from Wuhan, China. It was natural to see this patient as representing the start of the plague here.

But that view has fallen apart. A recent analysis of blood tests has found at least seven people in five different states who may have been infected, undiagnosed, well before that date. The new evidence comes from the arms of people who donated blood between mid-December 2019 and mid-March 2020. One donor, a resident of Illinois, was likely infected as early as December 24.

In Pill Form:

That was one week before a local office of the World Health Organization first reported to its superiors in the WHO that there was an outbreak of viral pneumonia in the Wuhan area. So the disease may have gotten as far from Wuhan as Illinois before the WHO picked up on it.



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