WSJ: Patients Convinced they had the Virus in the Fall of 2019 Test Positive for Antibodies

From The Wall Street Journal:

Armed with positive antibody tests for Covid-19 and a history of related symptoms, some Americans think they had the disease as early as fall 2019.

Last November, New Jersey dental hygienist Judy Abram suffered a severe illness that left her gasping for air. She tested positive for antibodies to the new coronavirus last month. “They just have the timeline wrong somewhere, which explains why we’re so deep in it,” she said. “I felt so strongly. I would’ve questioned if the test came back negative.”

Still, some people think the antibody-test results and the personal histories show that the disease may have been circulating months before Jan. 21, which is the date of the first-known U.S. infection.

In November, a 43-year-old federal law-enforcement official feared she would die when a violent flulike illness landed her in a New Orleans-area hospital. She said she tested negative for the flu and was diagnosed with bacterial bronchitis and prescribed antibiotics.

But the illness didn’t get better. Worsening symptoms—“I was gasping for air”—got her admitted to the hospital a second time. Around Thanksgiving, she drafted her will. Doctors eventually diagnosed her with mycoplasma pneumonia and an immunodeficiency condition, and prescribed more antibiotics, she said.

She spent months trying to figure out how she could have gotten so sick. After moving to Washington, D.C., this spring, the official said she tested positive for coronavirus antibodies twice in May with two different serology tests, which look for antibodies in the blood of people who have recovered.

“When I started to listen to people tell their stories about Covid-19, my stomach dropped because I thought, ‘Oh my God, that’s what I had,’” she said.

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