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“No evidence of Covid-19 losing potency” – WHO experts dismiss claims of Italian scientist

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PHOTO: Members of the medical staff in ICU at the San Raffaele Hospital

There is no evidence that the Covid-19 virus has been losing potency. A high profile Italian doctor made the assertions on Sunday. But the World Health Organisation and a range of other noted scientists say there was no evidence to support the assertion.

Professor Alberto Zangrillo, the head of intensive care at the San Raffaele Hospital in Lombardy, Italy, told state television that the new coronavirus “clinically no longer exists”. Lombardy was the region in northern Italy which bore the brunt of Italy’s Covid-19 outbreak. The professor said that new infections appear to be showing “a dramatic change… swab tests show patients have noticeably less of the virus in their bodies”.

Zangrillo, the personal doctor of former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi, claims his comments are backed up by a study conducted by Massimo Clementi, a fellow scientist, which Zangrillo says would be published next week.

“We have never said that the virus has changed, we said that the interaction between the virus and the host has definitely changed,” he told Reuters.

“The result was unambiguous: an extremely significant difference between the viral load of patients admitted in March compared to” those admitted last month, Zangrillo said.

But WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, along with several other experts on viruses and infectious diseases, responded by saying Zangrillo’s comments “were not supported by scientific evidence.”

“There is no data to show the new coronavirus is changing significantly, either in its form of transmission or in the severity of the disease it causes.”

The WHO’s Van Kerkhove told reporters that… “in terms of transmissibility, that has not changed, in terms of severity, that has not changed.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has so far killed more than 377,000 people and infected more than 6,366,000+ (as of Tuesday morning Thai time).

“Major studies looking at genetic changes in the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 did not support the idea that it was becoming less potent, or weakening in any way.”

The comments from Martin Hibberd, professor of emerging infectious diseases at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

“With data from more than 35,000 whole virus genomes, there is currently no evidence that there is any significant difference relating to severity.”

And a scientist at University of Glasgow’s Centre for Virus Research, Oscar MacLean, says suggestions that the virus was weakening were “not supported by anything in the scientific literature and also seem fairly implausible on genetic grounds.”

SOURCE: Reuters | Straits Times

 

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