Did COVID-19 Start Earlier?

We zoom into a secret laboratory in Oxfordshire, England today to find scientists hard at work on two matters: the first is a reliable antibody test to determine if a person has previously had COVID-19; the second is a disease tracking study to understand when it arrived in the UK. Taken together, this could represent the best news yet and bring forwards the end of draconian stay-at-home policies that have shattered the economy.

The researchers believe that COVID-19 arrived in the UK in early January and might have been here far longer. This seems to imply it was rife in China last autumn. The most eye-catching claim however is that around 50% of the entire UK population might have already had the disease, with most of them unaware they were even ill.

The undisclosed lab will be in a position to start rolling out the new tests, via Amazon and Boots, in their millions, next week. This will allow people to quickly determine if they have antibodies and if they do, to return to normal life. One hopes we are not forced to carry our COVID-19 status around with our credit cards, but some countries might try such a rule.

This is far from the end of the story, but it is an enormous relief at a time when most of the news has been of confusion, chaos and uncertainty. This might be situation normal for the natural world, but it is making the financial markets and normal life very difficult.