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expert reaction to news report about a man who died in the UK in January 2020 and post-mortem tests detected SARS-CoV-2 in his lung tissue

There have been reports that a man who died int he UK in January 2020 had SARS-CoV-2 detected in his lung tissue during post-mortem examination.


Prof Rowland Kao, the Sir Timothy O’Shea Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology and Data Science, University of Edinburgh, said:

“When evaluating any single test result, there is always the possibility of error – either because of a false positive test result, cross-contamination with other samples, or sample misidentification. However, should the result be robust, it is worth noting that, even for a highly infectious disease, there will be many instances where a single infected person entering the country will result in very few, or even no further cases observed in the UK. It is well known that international travel can very rapidly spread infection all around the globe; given that we now know that COVID-19 was circulating in China in early December and possibly earlier, it is plausible that at least some early infections were seeded elsewhere in this timeframe. It is worth noting however, that there is no evidence that these early introductions, if they occurred, resulted in more widespread outbreaks at that time.”


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