Health Authorities say Coronavirus in Italy is still lethal- But doctors say otherwise

As the number of reported cases drop dramatically, it is leading some doctors to suggest that coronavirus in Italy has either disappeared on is weakened.

Alberto Zangrillo, who is the head of Milan’s San Raffaele Hospital expresses his thoughts on the matter and says that he believes Italy is clinically virus free.

He continued to say, in the previous 10 days the swabs taken showed viral traces in quantitative terms that seemed nearly small in comparison to those found a few months ago.

These statements, however, have not gone unquestioned by public-health authorities in not only Italy but also at the World Health Organization.

Sandra Zampa, Italy’s undersecretary of the health ministry, said in a statement, that it would not sit well with people if statements without supporting scientific evidence are given out. Such a thing would only confuse Italians.

She went on to advise Italians to observe social distancing, live with caution, and avoid social gatherings that are large. She also encourages handwashing and wearing masks.

Zangrillo’s observation can have another explanation. This could be because when the outbreak was at its peak, coronavirus cases in Italy had higher viral loads than it does now.

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Viral load is a term to indicate the quantity of virus present in a patient. Experts don’t yet know if high viral loads have a link to the severity of coronavirus cases.

Published in the journal The Lancet, two studies suggest higher viral loads are seen to develop respiratory issues that are severe. In comparison to the Covid-19 cases who were admitted with mild symptoms, it was found there was a difference in viral loads.

The number of coronavirus cases has dropped. People with milder symptoms should be observed because they imply the virus has changed, says  Martin Hibberd, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Earlier in March Italy had new cases emerging on a daily basis with the number going as far as about 6,500. The healthcare system was struggling to treat everyone. Only severe cases were hospitalized.

Near the end of May, however, the daily cases stooped to a new low of about 300. That could explain how more Italians suffering from milder symptoms could seek health care as there was more room to cater to their condition. Therefore the findings could have acquired lower viral loads in the swabs taken in the test.

Maria van Kerkhove, the technical lead at WHO says, the coronavirus has not changed in its rate of infection from what it was at the start of the pandemic. Even now the number of cases considered severe remains the same. These cases still stand at 20%.

The rate of transmission hasn’t changed neither has the severity of the reported cases, She said.

Despite the statements coming from Italian doctors like Matteo Bassetti, a doctor who heads the San Martino Hospital’s infectious-diseases clinic in Genoa: who claim the virus has been reduced in strength now. The executive director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program thinks otherwise.

He says it is not likely that the coronavirus has evolved to become weak.

This is a lethal virus, he emphasized. We should be careful especially in not creating a false sense of safety. Stating the virus on its own accord became less dangerous is wrong.

The coronavirus, not unlike other viruses does evolve and mutate over a time period but the small changes in the genome of the virus don’t mean it would become less contagious or less lethal.

Both Ryan and van Kerkhove agree that the possibility of the coronavirus in Italy proving less lethal is because of their diligence in practicing preventative measures like social distancing.


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