A new study offers the first physical evidence that the coronavirus was circulating at low levels in New York City as early as the first week of February.
The city confirmed its first infection on March 1. Mathematical models have predicted that the virus was making its way through the city weeks before then, but the new report is the first to back the conjecture with testing data.
The study found that some New Yorkers had antibodies to the virus as early as the week ending Feb. 23. Given the time needed to produce antibodies, those people were most likely infected with the virus about two weeks earlier.
“You’re probably talking about very early in February,” said Florian Krammer, an immunologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who led the study. “It looks like there was at least low-level circulation.”
The findings were posted online Tuesday