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Coronavirus: Italy

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN HL11577, tabled on 17 December 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the article by Giovanni Apolone et al Unexpected detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the prepandemic period in Italy, published in the Tumori Journal on 11 November.

Answered on

11 January 2021

Public Health England monitors the evidence on COVID-19, including articles such as that by Apolone et al.

This published study uses in-house serological methods which require considerable assurance on their specificity and sensitivity, which is not provided in the paper. Therefore, there are several reservations about the laboratory methods used, which provide uncertainty about the conclusions drawn.

Whilst indicative of the possibility, this article is not definitive evidence of the presence of COVID-19 virus in Italy in December and additional supportive evidence is required to achieve high confidence in this assertion.

Answered by

Department of Health and Social Care