ROME — Dr. Alberto Zangrillo, the head of intensive care at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan, told Italian media Sunday that Italy has beaten the coronavirus and it is counterproductive to keep attention focused on it.
Speaking on the RAI 3 television network, Dr. Zangrillo said that “the swabs performed over the last 10 days showed a viral load that was absolutely infinitesimal in quantitative terms compared to the ones carried out on patients a month or two ago.”
Professor Zangrillo was citing a new study by Massimo Clementi, director of the Microbiology and Virology Laboratory at the San Raffaele hospital, which is due to be published shortly. The Lombardy region, where the hospital is located, has been Italy’s hardest hit in terms of absolute numbers of those infected by the coronavirus as well as in fatalities.
The study shows that, “in reality, from the clinical point of view, the virus no longer exists,” Zangrillo said.
The doctor declared that his conclusions are corroborated by studies from Milan’s Vita-Salute San Raffaele University as well as by Italian virologist Dr. Guido Silvestri, chair of pathology at Emory University in Atlanta, who has stated that the retreat of COVID-19 “continues undaunted.”
Zangrillo also said that to continue drawing attention to the coronavirus can wind up looking “ridiculous” from the perspective of clinical virology.
Italian officials, who have gone to great lengths to encourage caution, reacted swiftly to Dr. Zangrillo’s comments.
“I can only express great surprise and absolute puzzlement over the statements made by Professor Zangrillo,” said Franco Locatelli, the head of Italy’s supreme health council. “Just look at the number of new cases confirmed every day for evidence of the persistent circulation of the virus in Italy.”
In point of fact, however, there were only 318 new cases discovered in all of Italy during the 24-hour period from June 1-2, despite aggressive testing, true to the ongoing trend in reduction.
On June 2, the number of active cases of coronavirus in Italy dropped below 40,000 for the first time since late March, to a total of 39,893, continuing a declining trend of some 10,000 per week. Deaths with coronavirus during the same 24-hour period fell to 55 out of an average 1,800 deaths per day in Italy from other causes.
Globally, 360,412 people have died with the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University, putting it roughly in the range of worldwide deaths from the 2008-2009 swine flu, estimated at between 151,700 and 575,400 people.
Coming to Zangrillo’s defense, Dr. Matteo Bassetti, director of the infectious diseases clinic at the San Martino hospital in Genoa, said Monday that the virus seems to have lost much of its lethal force.
The coronavirus “may now be different: the firepower it had two months ago is not the same firepower it has today,” he said.