Rome’s famed Colosseum reopened on June 1. (AFP)
For months we have witnessed the twists and turns, revelations and corrections around Covid-19. Great is the confusion under the sky. But we are not in Mao’s time, and therefore the situation is by no means a good one. Let’s connect some dots.
1. WHO: “Infection by asymptomatic people is very rare” … in fact “we don’t know”. Maria Van Kerkhove, director of the technical team of the World Health Organization (WHO) on the coronavirus (1), on Monday June 8 ventured to say: “There are cases of infected people who are asymptomatic, but countries that are monitoring contacts in detail do not find a secondary transmission of these cases. They are “public health experts”, led by the Harvard Global Health Institute. And so, the WHO adjusts the draft the next day: “Most of the transmission cases we know of occur, by droplets, by those who have symptoms. But there are people who don’t develop symptoms, and we still don’t have an answer to the question of how many infected people have no symptoms. Some research estimates the likelihood of asymptomatic (and more often pre-symptomatic) infections with probabilistic models, without directly documenting transmission. However, the WHO expert’s revealing phrase is: “For every answer we find to the questions, ten more emerge”. The answer is always: it depends (on the circumstances). FOR EXAMPLE a closed, crowded place in an area with a high viral load is a specific case, not generalizable (see points 10 and 12).
And speaking of probabilistic models…
2. “Epidemiological models have failed, better not to use them in political decisions”. Virologist Guido Silvestri, reiterating, in his social column “Pills of Optimism”, what he had previously said about the failure of mathematical models to predict the real progress of the epidemic, explaining, in reference to Italy(2): “Today is the fateful 8th of June. What, if we hadn’t been careful, we would have had 151,000 patients in the ICU. Instead, there are 286. And after 34 and 20 days since the May “openings”, there is no sign of that disastrous return of the pandemic that the authors of the mathematical models take for granted about the effects of Phase 2″. Therefore, “I think it is right for Italian citizens (…) to admit this fact and to promise that these models will no longer be used for political decisions, for example, for schools”.
He then cites the case of Florida, in the USA, “a state with a minimum quarantine, the mortality per 100,000 inhabitants is 12.6” (in Italy it is five times more). Therefore, “the data from Georgia and Florida demonstrate once again how epidemiological models, which at the same time postulate a positive effect with strict confinement, do not take into account the seasonal climate factor, and do not explain the pandemic trend in a universally valid way and, as such, should not be used to guide policy decisions”. In summary, the scientific-epidemiological framework of the policy argument for national quarantines and school closures both raises concerns and could lead to questions.
However, they remain…
3. The “what ifs” of Imperial College. It was once said that history is not made with “what ifs”. But it seems that an exception is made for epidemiological predictions. Because how do you verify that? The study by Imperial College London published by Nature (3) is also based on theoretical models on the impact, compared to Covid-19 in Europe, of “non-pharmaceutical interventions”, i.e. blockades of activities, confinement or quarantine and the closure of schools. Referring to the impact of restrictions in 11 Western European countries, the Imperial College authors believe that these unprecedented measures have saved more than three million lives (630,000 in Italy). However, it must be said that several non-EU countries that have not opted for national quarantine have had much more success than European ones.
The debate on the best strategy against the pandemic will never end…
The Imperial College states that “only a small proportion of the British population became infected and therefore we are only at the beginning of the pandemic” (and on average in the eleven countries, only 3-4% of the population would have the virus)
It must be said that the mathematical prediction models of Imperial College with respect to Covid-19 often missed the mark (and in addition, in previous epidemics, they had made many mistakes) (4). There have been numerous criticisms of the
model headed by Neil Ferguson (the team leader had to resign as a government advisor because he had clandestinely met his girlfriend and violated the popular quarantine).
In March, Ferguson’s task force predicted over half a million deaths for Italy if no action was taken and 283,000 deaths IF national quarantine and containment were applied as they were. It was very different. The same mistakes, in fact many more, were made for the United Kingdom. In an explosive document on foreign policy, the Imperial College predicted on March 16 (5) that in the event of political inaction there would be 2.2 million deaths in the US and up to 510,000 in the UK (and in the case of simple “mitigation” measures, the deaths would have been 1 million and 260,000 respectively). A few days after convincing the British, American and French governments to take drastic measures, Ferguson’s team exaggerated in the other direction (6), stating in March: “The number of deaths in the UK from Covid or from its impact with other previous pathologies, should not exceed 20,000 “and in fact” could be much lower”. Instead, as of June 9, there were many more deaths among Her Majesty’s subjects, according to official statistics provided by the government to the WHO: 40,597 (7). The April predictions of the IHME (Institute for Health Measurement and Evaluation) in Seattle were also wrong: by next August, Italy would have reached 20,300 deaths, Spain 19,000, France 15,000, the United States 81,000.
However, clinically speaking….
4. “Clinically the Sars-CoV-2 no longer exists. There will not be a second outbreak.” The month of June begins with the storm triggered by this statement by Alberto Zangrillo, primary anesthesia and resuscitation specialist at the San Raffaele in Milan on Rai 3 television, who said: “The Coronavirus is gone, someone wants to terrorize the country”. And in a later interview: “Anyone who says there will be a second outbreak in the fall is saying things that don’t make sense from a scientific point of view. The evidence tells us that this is taking a positive turn. Let us prepare to revive and reclaim our future.”(9) A finding supported by the director of San Martino in Genoa, Matteo Bassetti: “I agree as a doctor and, frankly, I am impressed that there are so many people who think differently, perhaps they are people who do not see the sick. Reality shows that every day the number of people in intensive care is decreasing… the sick no longer come, or only come from outbreaks: ARS or health personnel who assisted patients in ARS. So, if you tell me that scientific evidence is needed to show that the virus has mutated, that’s fine. But don’t deny the clinical evidence. These are the numbers from the Civil Protection. Also in agreement is Fabrizio Pregliasco, an epidemiologist from the Galeazzi Institute in Milan, who expressed himself in the same vein: “We have discussed this with Zangrillo and it is evidence, he is right, but we must remain prudent and cautious because things are always being discovered about this new virus. Now we can manage it better than in the past “(10).
The famous virus with thorns no longer has the same face …
5. Almost 7,000 Sars-CoV-2 mutations. According to a recent study, more than 6,800 mutations appeared in the coronavirus genome during its journey around the world (11): among the most common, none was found to increase its transmission, while most may have criminalized the virus. Most of the time these changes would not have arisen as a result of the virus adapting to humans, but would have been induced precisely by the immune defence mechanisms of infected people.
It had already been seen in early May …
6. So what’s the point of chasing after the vaccine? More than a month ago, Massimo Clementi, director of the virology laboratory at San Raffaele in Milan, interviewed by Corriere della Sera, said: “The infection no longer flows into the very serious phase, the so-called ‘cytokine storm’ (…) The number of patients needing hospitalization is decreasing, the epidemic is still there, but from the clinical point of view it is emptying out. The disease has changed or is changing”. And also: “The coronavirus has lost its potency. (…) We hope that this new coronavirus can slowly become harmless, like its ‘cousins’ responsible for colds”. After all, “we know of 6 other human coronaviruses, 4 of which have always infected us. What we have been treating for some months may, if it continues, change its clinical risk profile and adapt to the host, changing it genetically. And there were already many statements to this effect at the beginning of May (12). Watch out! This could undermine the idea of the vaccine! So… here is the statement of the former virologist (this is how she defines herself) Ilaria Capua (13): “It is a pathogen that manifests itself differently according to different factors, and the clinical manifestations are much more serious when there is no cure”. The fundamental difference between then and now lies in the organization, health and social, established in recent months: “I think the whole system has really improved. But as a former virologist, I tell you that when you say the virus is weakened, this is not entirely correct. The genome of the virus has not changed, so we cannot declare this. Just as I cannot say that it has become more aggressive.”
Meanwhile, beyond the Alps, a political study reveals that …
7. France: first – disappointing – balance of the Macronian “recipe for war”. According to a French study (14), “the available empirical data suggest that French policy has had no effect on the dynamics of the epidemic or on the final mortality which is very important (…) All over the world, the countries that have achieved the best results in the face of the epidemic, have trusted doctors and citizens “and focused on: prevention (specific protection of people at risk), identification of cases (especially among health personnel), separation of the sick and rapid treatment, often with treatments similar to those prohibited in France”. Here the reference to hydroxychloroquine is clear.
And speaking of boycotted treatments…
8. The Lancet Medical Journal and the WHO are making a fool of themselves over hydroxychloroquine. Prescribed in China, the United States, Brazil, India, most African countries, the Middle East and certain European countries (15) (16), hydroxychloroquine is demonized in France. At the end of May, the prestigious medical journal The Lancet published a study that would demonstrate the ineffectiveness and side effects (at the cardiovascular level) of the drug. And the WHO immediately stopped the experiment (Solidarité) of the Covid-19 treatment based on hydroxychloroquine which started on March 28th with the help of 400 hospitals in 35 different countries with 3500 infected people. Then, two hundred scientists from all the countries of the world signed an open letter indicating many errors in an investigation entrusted to unverifiable data from one company (Surgisphere) (17). Then, quickly, Lancet retracted the content of the article (18) and the WHO… retracted the interruption.
Continuing on the subject of boycotted treatments versus vaccines
Plasma or Big Pharma? Leopoldo Salmaso, an infectious disease specialist, who has worked extensively on what he calls the real epidemics in Africa, writes: “On one thing, everyone seems to agree: little is known about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the associated CoViD-19 syndrome. And “even the most competent and dedicated doctors, such as Giuseppe De Donno with his plasma therapy, count for very little in comparison with the” academic barons “and political bunglers. They matter even less compared to Big Pharma, which has no intention whatsoever of giving up the multi-million dollar bite of a vaccine that, by definition, will be even less effective than flu shots” (19). In fact, on June 12, WHO emergency chief Mike Ryan said, “We must learn to live with the virus. We hope to find an effective vaccine, but there is no guarantee that this will happen. Governments around the world must strike a balance between controlling the virus and the social and economic consequences of the measures”.
Meanwhile, the epidemic in Italy …
10. Why did the epidemic die out in Italy? Virologist Giulio Tarro, author, together with Francesco Santoianni, of the book he has just published “Covid, the virus of fear”, repeats what he said in March: “The Italians infected by Sars-Cov-2 were already in the millions and not the few thousands announced by the government . If one concedes, denying what the various experts supposedly accepted, perhaps another explanation could be given for the extinction of the epidemic; and that is that the virus no longer finds people to infect because they are immunized, making it useless for them to be vaccinated”(20). For this reason, according to the virologist, masks and social distancing are no longer needed in the current state of affairs, because the Sars-CoV-2 virus … “according to a study carried out in Singapore that had the first Sars in 2003 the population developed cellular immunity to make it immune to the current virus (…) This shows that Sars-CoV-2 is largely identical to the beta-coronavirus of the first Sars and will therefore have the same course”(21). It will disappear.
Waiting, finally a word “from above” about the “anti-virus” gloves…
11. WHO: “No to gloves, not even in the supermarket”. Little satisfaction for those who had always preached (and practiced) the rejection of disposable latex gloves. Double damage, for health and environment. Italians have used them everywhere in recent months: some spontaneously, some believe they are compulsory (even, for example, because of poorly formulated messages on the Fs’ commuter trains!) Well, the WHO finally feels obliged to intervene (22): “No to gloves, and not even in the supermarket, using them can increase the risk of infection, as it can lead to self-pollution or transmission to others when they touch each other contaminated surfaces and then the face”. In addition, a study conducted two months ago in Germany in the district of Heinsberg, one of the country’s major infection outbreaks, and conducted by the institute of virology at the University of Bonn, found that the outbreak spreads when people are within walking distance for a fairly long period of time (such as at parties after skiing at Alpine resorts, one of the centres of exposure). Contact with objects is therefore very unlikely: (23) “for the virus to penetrate an individual it has to first be coughed into someone’s hand, then immediately touch a doorknob, and immediately afterwards someone else should grab the same doorknob and touch the individual’s face “(…) ” The main vehicle of transmission is saliva which an individual can transmit to others by coughing, sneezing or talking at close range”(…) Sars-CoV-2 travels through droplets, the droplets emitted by the mouths of people already infected, but virologist Christian Drosten, from the Charité hospital in Berlin, points out that the virus is not very resistant in a dry environment and, therefore, the only way to contract it is “by inhaling the droplet”.
However, the use of deadly disinfectants has been exaggerated!
12. Fear of contagion from the surface: stop disinfectants and disinfectations everywhere! In short, “getting infected by the virus on a surface requires a sequence of unlikely, excessive, unfortunate and rare combinations,” explained epidemiologist Donato Greco, who has been in charge of the Epidemiology Laboratory at the Instituto Superior de Salud for 30 years, then general manager of Prevention at the Ministry of Health from 2004 to 2008, rejecting without appeal the “sanitations, involving martians in white overalls” armed “with hydraulic spray guns, the use of chemical disinfectants, often harmful to health, the use of latex gloves, not to mention practices such as wrapping personal belongings in hairdressing bags for the client” (24 ). In fact, it is necessary to distinguish between the health environment and other environments.
In addition, according to the World Health Organization’s latest guide, (25) the transmission of the Covid-19 virus has not been definitively linked to contaminated environmental surfaces, according to available studies, and offers several recommendations for additional sanitary spaces: “The application of aerosol disinfectants in indoor spaces is not recommended”. We should ask ourselves about the products used in the various environments we frequent. And, again for the WHO, “fumigation of outdoor spaces, such as streets and markets, to kill the virus responsible for Covid-19 and other pathogens is not recommended because the disinfectant is deactivated from organic matter that is impossible to remove completely”. Even less effective is spraying in porous areas. In addition, “roads are not considered reservoirs of infection for Covid-19. As well, “the spread of aerosol disinfectants, even in the open air, can be dangerous to human health”.
In summary, outdoor areas generally require normal, routine cleaning (according to pre-existing rules) and do not require disinfection. Instead, there has been a massive use, outdoors and indoors, of deadly disinfectant sprays applied by people in space suits. How long are we going to continue with disinfections where water and soap or other natural detergents would be sufficient?
Many people used ammonia or similar to disinfect any product that came into the house, including food containers, fruits and vegetables!
We will not be silent about the problematic “masks”
13. New revelations about “the first disposable talisman in history”? Quotes are the definition given by Wu Ming’s website, in a compendium on the Covid, which we recommend reading (26). Especially in Italy, where people still wear masks even outdoors when they are alone. Regarding a supposed advance by the WHO, here is a clarification by Guido Silvestri: “This is what the WHO really says: 1. There is no scientific evidence (from studies on Covid-19 and with healthy people) that the use of the universal mask prevents the infection of respiratory viruses, including Covid-19.2. These are the settings, defined on the WHO website (27): “Spaces where other containment measures cannot be maintained, such as distance, testing, isolation, e.g. work activities, shops, mass social gatherings, schools, churches, mosques… People living in crowded situations, including refugee camps, displaced persons, slums… means of transport… activities in contact with the public”. So, when space is available, the mask is not necessary. Then, there are washable ones (and they can also be self-produced), to avoid waste.
The WHO also details the probable disadvantages of the use of masks by healthy people; among them: “Self-contamination if masks are not changed when wet or dirty, which creates favourable conditions for microorganisms” (NB. it is quite impossible for them not to become damp in a very short time…); difficulty in breathing and headache; possible skin lesions and dermatitis if used for many hours; false sense of security; problems in waste management and environmental risks; communication problems for people with hearing disabilities; difficulties for people with mental disabilities, asthma, chronic respiratory diseases”.
Then there are those who do hard work or are forced to wear a mask eight hours a day. Lastly, the WHO concludes in one line a gigantic problem that affects many areas of the world and not only in the summer season: the difficulty of using the device when you live (and worse work) “in hot and humid environments”.
The strain of living is increasing. How much longer do we have to wait?
Other hidden dramas…
14. They will die of anything else (but the dead will not be counted). No one doubts that among the by-products of the Covid-19 crisis there is, worldwide and in Italy, an extra-Covid-19 health emergency (28). The fear of Covid-19 has meant that the number brought to the emergency room for ischemia and heart attacks has decreased significantly, with an increase in deaths from heart failure not only in Italy but also abroad. In recent months, most surgeries have been postponed (28 million worldwide, according to an estimate published in the British Journal of Surgery), to allow health professionals to address the most critical phase of the pandemic. In Italy alone, during the emergency months, hospitals were busy treating patients with Covid-19, postponing half a million surgeries and millions of visits to specialists, said Pierluigi Marini, president of the Association of Italian and Primary Hospital Surgeons at San Camillo in Rome. An estimated 3 million patients need a cardiological examination and 12 million have not yet had a radiological examination because they were unable to visit in March, April and May. Oncological operations, on the other hand, have fallen by 50%: a very high figure, considering that “in Italy we have about a thousand new cases of cancer a day,” explains Marini, adding that “the consequences of this accumulation are terrifying. I wonder if anyone will try to calculate them”.
A tweet has aroused emotion and reaction in Argentina in recent days. The well-known actor Marcelo Mazzarello wrote on June 7: “My father died two days ago in my house. I took him home, in the clinic he was dehydrated, malnourished and treated with an excess of drugs. The pandemic became an excuse to abandon patients who did not have Covid. People died who do not appear in the statistics. They are the dead of the health dictatorship”(29). In a video interview by Alfredo Leuco of Todo Noticias, a few days later (30) Marcelo denounces what happened. However, there are those who gloat.
15. Money and (from now on) silence (perhaps). Italy has trusted virologists with drastic but conflicting opinions; and it paid very well. Roberto Burioni, viral virologist, the main architect of the urbi et orbi narrative in Italy, declared his intention to go into silent mode until October. Perhaps the result of an investigation carried out by the magazine L’Espresso regarding his generous earnings from his relations with Big Pharma and other generous companies, such as Ferrari?
The question then arises: was Italy, despite its many deaths and confinement, really an international model for health protection?
21) Giulio Tarro: “The Sars-CoV-2 will disappear like the first Sars. Here is the scie ntifico study that proves it, Fondazionenenni.blog
23. “You can’t get coronavirus at the supermarket. German study reduces the risk of infection by objects, the messenger April 19, 2020.
24) https://www.scienzainrete.it/articolo/sorvegliare-e-pulire-eccessi-da-sanificazione/donato-greco/2020-05-19 and https://www.adnkronos.com/fatti/cronaca/2020/05/26/epidemiologo-tutte-inutili-misure-per-riapertura-tranne_AwtIFKpWF4mqT7JQHtKTIJ.html?refresh_ce
25) https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/cleaning-and-disinfection-of-environmental-surfaces-inthe-context-of-covid-19 (Cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces in the context of Covid-19 Who Interim guidance)
27) Who, Advice on the use of masks in the context of Covid-19 – World Health Organization.