A top Italian doctor is claiming that the coronavirus is losing its potency, though World Health Organization officials seem far less convinced.
“The swabs that were performed over the last 10 days showed a viral load in quantitative terms that was absolutely infinitesimal compared to the ones carried out a month or two months ago," he added.
33,415 Italians have died since the outbreak accelerated on February 21, which is the third most deaths for a country (at least, officially) on the planet. Italy has also had 233,019 cases, which is the sixth most, according to worldometers.info.
Despite those tallies, new infections and fatalities have seen a drop in numbers since May. As a result, the nation is starting to pull back on their very tight lockdown restrictions.
Zangrillo went on to express the opinion that experts have been scaremongering too much about a second wave, and he believes that politicians should adjust their plans due to this new info (again, we stress this is his opinion).
“We’ve got to get back to being a normal country,” Zangrillo said. “Someone has to take responsibility for terrorizing the country.”
In response, the Italian government stressed caution and said that it's not yet time to declare victory. The WHO echoed that advice.
“Pending scientific evidence to support the thesis that the virus has disappeared ... I would invite those who say they are sure of it not to confuse Italians,” said an undersecretary at the nation's health ministry, via a statement.
“We should instead invite Italians to maintain the maximum caution, maintain physical distancing, avoid large groups, to frequently wash their hands, and to wear masks.”
Reuters reports that a second doctor from northern Italy, which had been the nation's hardest-hit area, also voiced the opinion that the virus was weakening.
“The strength the virus had two months ago is not the same strength it has today,” said Matteo Bassetti, who heads up the infectious disease clinic at Genoa's San Martino hospital.
“It is clear that today the COVID-19 disease is different.”
Despite the doctors reporting what would appear to be good (or at least good-ish) news, on Monday the WHO responded to the comments about the virus losing potency by saying "this is still a killer virus," while also pointing out that daily worldwide death tolls are still in the thousands.
“We need to be exceptionally careful that we are not creating a sense that all of a sudden the virus has decided to be less pathogenic. That is not the case at all,” said WHO's emergencies programme director, Dr. Mike Ryan.
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, who also works for the WHO, added that governments still need to practice a high amount of vigilance, saying, "[I]f we let the virus go, it will transmit. If we let the virus go, it will infect people and it will cause severe illness in about 20 percent of people."
Just a week ago, the WHO alerted countries that they could hit a "second peak" if they prematurely let up on measures intended to halt the outbreak.
More than 6.1 million people have been infected worldwide, with deaths now above 372,000.