The CDC recently amended six death certificates from January, 2020, listing COVID-19 as a contributing factor, and making Lovell “Cookie” Brown, of Leavenworth, TX, the first known person in the world to die with COVID-19– on Jan 9, 2020.
John Eplee, a Kansas lawmaker and physician who has treated COVID-19 patients, calls the case a “headscratcher” but isn’t surprised at the idea of the virus spreading in Leavenworth, a military town... “Brown’s death suggests the virus was percolating here before experts realized it. I think there are other cases like this case in Leavenworth,” he said. “They’re just not known at this time. I think this will go on forever. We’ll be gone, and we’ll still be speculating about how and where it started.”
It’s likely, said John Swartzberg, an infectious disease professor emeritus at UC Berkeley, that these early cases were initially written off as colds or flu. Swartzberg thinks — and the new death data suggests — it’s entirely possible that COVID was present in the United States as early as December or even November. The time from infection to death from COVID is typically around three weeks. “I would certainly guess the virus was introduced on multiple occasions before it was identified as a problem,” Swartzberg said, noting that states like Alabama and Oklahoma don’t generally see a lot of travel to and from China.
Said Matthew Memoli, director of clinical studies at the NIH Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, “We need to sit back and really assess what was this thing, when it started, how did we handle it, did we create more of a problem than we needed to, could we have handled things differently? There’s a lot to think about here. I always thought it had to have been here in the U.S. well before we identified it as a big problem”. His team is studying thousands of people across the country and their research suggests that by July 2020, there were about five unidentified cases for every known case and possibly more.
His boss, NIH Director, physician-geneticist Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., surmised, “The Coronavirus might have been spreading quietly in humans for years, or even decades, without causing a detectable outbreak”.
A CDC analysis of thousands of blood samples, collected by the American Red Cross in December 2019 and January 2020, found evidence of antibodies to COVID-19 in all nine states included, but found no record of whether those people got sick or died.
Then, last month, the CDC announced, "Estimated Covid seroprevalence increased from [1.4% in December, 2019 to] 3.5% in July 2020, to 83.3% for combined infection- and vaccine-induced antibodies in May 2021".
COVID-19 was silently infecting Americans before first cases emerged in Wuhan: CDC study. Coronavirus was present in the U.S. weeks earlier than scientists and public health officials previously thought, raising questions about the pandemic’s origin. Bloomberg
More recent CDC and WHO research supports Dr. Collins. Apart from speculation about 2019 EVALI deaths – confined to the US and since proven unrelated to vaping – and nursing home ‘pneumonia’ outbreaks in midsummer, the CDC and WHO have found further evidence of earlier circulation.
The WHO sent 30 of Italy’s Covid samples–taken in September and December, 2019– to Rotterdam’s Erasmus University laboratory for re-testing: “The combined results made a convincing case that the coronavirus or a similar virus was circulating in Italy months before the country's first officially recorded case”.
Then the CDC found 1.4 percent of archived Red Cross blood samples from December, 2019, Covid seropositive, suggesting that four million Americans had contracted the disease. Then the NIH found that COVID-19 prevalence far exceeded early pandemic cases: 17 million undiagnosed cases by mid-July 2020 and 4.8 undiagnosed cases for every diagnosed COVID-19 case–an additional 16.8 million cases by July alone. Even one-third of white-tailed deer in the NE USA tested Covid seropositive!
There is one further clue about early circulation: Covid deaths double every 4-5 months, so 95,000 Covid deaths in January, 2020, suggest that the virus was circulating quietly in the US, just as the NIH’s Dr. Collins said. The corrected record looks like this:
Note: China reported its first Covid death on January 11, two days after the first US death. When the WHO reviewed 76,000 Chinese clinical records from October - November 2019, “Sixty-seven of those had no signs of infection based on antibody tests done a year later, and all 92 were ultimately ruled out based on the clinical criteria for Covid-19”.