Coronavirus was already in Brazil in December 2019, says study

study covid
Desinfection efforts of the Rio de Janeiro International Airport. Photo: Photocarioca/Shutterstock

A study on patients tested for arboviruses in the southeastern state of Espírito Santo identified coronavirus antibodies in one individual who sought a local healthcare unit due to a suspected case of dengue fever.

That date would place the coronavirus in Brazil before the first Covid-19 cases were even reported in China. In Brazil, the first case was confirmed late in February 2020.

The study was carried out by local scientists in partnership with the Federal University of Espírito Santo and the Tropical Medicine Institute of the Nova Lisboa University in Portugal. It aimed to identify the simultaneous presence of Sars-CoV-2 and viruses transmitting dengue and chikungunya — as the diseases may share similar symptoms.

Researchers are now trying to determine the effects of both types of infections at once — for instance, whether antibodies against arboviruses can make Covid-19 infections milder or more severe.

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