Coronavirus in Italy: the words “of the doctor of Berlusconi” are controversial

A famous Italian doctor and emergency doctor assured that the new coronavirus had disappeared from Italy and that it was time to stop unnecessarily “terrorizing” the Italians, provoking an outcry from the authorities and other specialists. “In reality, the virus no longer clinically exists in Italy,” Doctor Alberto Zangrillo, director of the San Raffaele hospital in Milan (North), said on May 31, 2020 on RAI television. The latter is known in Italy as “the doctor of Silvio Berlusconi”, being the one who follows the health of the former head of the Italian government.

“The samples taken in the past ten days have shown an absolutely infinitesimal viral load in quantitative terms compared to those taken a month or two months ago,” he said. “It is time to stop terrorizing this country,” even said the doctor. The new coronavirus killed nearly 33,500 in three months in Italy, the epicenter of the disease in Europe after its appearance in China in late 2019. The North, in particular Lombardy (of which Milan is the capital), has concentrated most of the cases.

Read also Coronavirus: Italy and the throes of deconfinement

“Pending scientific evidence to support the thesis of the disappearance of the virus, I invite those who say they are convinced of this thesis not to sow confusion among Italians,” commented in a statement the undersecretary of the ministry of Health, Sandra Zampa. The head of the National Health Council, Franco Locatelli, said he was “baffled” by the words of Dr. Zangrillo. “You only have to look at the number of new positive cases confirmed each day to see the persistent circulation in Italy of the new coronavirus,” he said.

These claims have no support in the scientific literature

This number varies between 300 and 500 new daily infections. On Sunday, 355 new cases were identified, most of them in Lombardy. The director of the prestigious Spallanzani Institute of Infectious Diseases in Rome, Giuseppe Ippolito, said that there was no scientific evidence that the virus had mutated or decreased in power. “These claims have no support in the scientific literature and seem rather plausible from a genetic point of view,” commented Dr. Oscar MacLean of the Center for Virus Research at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. “I am not aware of any studies claiming that the virus has weakened,” said Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the English University of Nottingham. According to the data currently available, “there is no evidence of the existence of a significant difference in the virulence” of the virus, adds Martin Hibberd, professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM ).

Italy has been gradually losing ground since the start of May, keen to revive its economy on its knees as quickly as possible, especially tourism, which is supposed to start again with the opening of the borders scheduled for June 3. But the peninsula remains very marked and the official daily reports of deaths and contaminations are analyzed with a magnifying glass. The government warned that this was one of the most sensitive phases of deconfinement and called on the population to respect the rules of distancing more than ever. A smartphone application to search for people in contact with a patient, aimed at helping to avoid a new epidemic outbreak, is also available since Monday for download, but will not be operational until Monday June 8 in four from 20 regions of the country, and others will follow soon.

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