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COVID-19 has weakened in Italy, says doctor who calls for return to ‘normal’

The riots sparked by the death of George Floyd have distracted public attention from the ongoing debate about reopening under COVID-19, although some observers have noted that keeping Americans in pandemic lockdown is now pointless while violent gangs loot and burn cities.

Momentum for ending stay-at-home orders had been building before the unrest, as red-state reopenings showed the fatality rate was not increasing beyond what was previously seen, defying the expectations of hysterics.

But even without the riots, the argument for continuing the lockdowns may have lost more steam once critics of the policies picked up on recent news out of Italy.

Reuters reported on Sunday that the virus in essence no longer exists in northern Italy, one of the areas of the world rocked hardest by the coronavirus.

According to Johns Hopkins University’s death tally, Italy has the world’s fourth-highest fatality rate on a per capita basis. With 55 deaths for 100,000 Italians, the nation trails only Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom. 

At the height of the outbreak, Italy’s peak daily death total hit 919 on March 27. Yet on May 31, that number had plummeted to 75.

Thus, some Italian doctors claim the virus has lost its oomph. 

“In reality, the virus clinically no longer exists in Italy,” Dr. Alberto Zangrillo, the head of the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan told Italian television. “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.”

Matteo Bassetti, head of the infectious diseases clinic at the San Martino hospital in Genoa, agreed, telling a second news agency, “The strength the virus had two months ago is not the same strength it has today.”

As the Daily Mail of London explained, “Scientific theory suggests viruses may become weaker over time in a bid to survive — if they kill or cripple all their human hosts they will run out of road.”

The doctors drew some blowback for their analysis, however. The Italian health ministry urged continued caution and encouraged the doctors not to “confuse” the citizens. The critics also included a pair of American physicians, the Daily Mail noted, including an epidemiologist from Stanford University who maintained the doctors’ claims were “bulls—.”

But perhaps the lockdown enthusiasts were motivated by the message that accompanied the doctors’ report.

Said Dr. Zangrillo: “We’ve got to get back to being a normal country. Someone has to take responsibility for terrorizing the country.”

Yet no one will. 

Before the riots in the U.S., few American reopening critics were willing to consider whether wrecking the economy and isolating people for weeks on end was a mistake. It’s doubtful they will do so now, even though data suggest evidence for their position is hard to come by.

For example, Sweden, which never completely shut down, offers the counterargument. Today, according to Johns Hopkins, the Nordic nation has the fifth-highest fatality rate, but is less than Italy and nearly half that of Belgium, which implemented one of the severest lockdowns in Europe.

Dr. Zangrillo is correct. It’s time to get back to normal — as best we can — even if the lockdown proponents refuse to re-evaluate.

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1 Comment

  1. Vickie L Cochran June 2, 2020

    B.S. Our infections and deaths in Arkansas have increased exponentially since reopening and the actual effect trails two weeks or more behind.

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