Italy: The Coronavirus is Far Less Capable of Replication – It’s a ‘Different Disease’

ER Editor: We remind readers of an Italian article we published yesterday on the refreshingly outspoken Italian head of the ICU at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, Dr. Alberto Zangrillo, who has claimed Italy is being terrorized over the virus scare. See Coronavirus in Italy: “Covid no longer exists, someone is terrorizing the country” – ICU doctor.

Predictably, the WHO and its experts have rebutted these claims, but what precise evidence they are basing their doubts on is not given. See WHO and other experts say no evidence of COVID-19 losing potency. In this report, Zangrillo has countered with the following:

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

He said this could be due either to different characteristics of the virus, which he said they had not yet identified, or different characteristics in those infected.

The study by Clementi, who is director of the microbiology and virology laboratory of San Raffaele, compared virus samples from COVID-19 patients at the Milan-based hospital in March with samples from patients with the disease in May.

“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.

It’s rather curious that if you do a Google image search with the names “massimo clementi alberto zangrillo”, you get a bunch of English-language reports denying the validity of their claims, 3-4 days after the story first aired.


The coronavirus is less capable of replication: the study of San Raffaele cited by Zangrillo

A work in the pipeline shows that the viral load has weakened enormously in patients in May compared to those hospitalized in Milan in March.


Sars-CoV-2 continues to circulate, but can we rightly say that something has changed in the spread of the epidemic, as claimed by Professor Alberto Zangrillo, who spoke on Sunday, May 31, about a virus that “clinically no longer exists”?

According to a study conducted at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, which is being published in a scientific journal, between March and May the amount of virus present in positive subjects was significantly reduced. “We analyzed 200 of our patients – points out Massimo Clementi, director of the San Raffaele Laboratory of Microbiology and Virology and professor at the University Vita-Salute, as well as curator of the work, comparing the viral load present in the samples taken with the swab. Well, the results are extraordinary: the replicating capacity of the virus in May is enormously weakened compared to what we had in March. And this concerns patients of all ages, including those over 65″.

A different disease

A change in viral load does not necessarily mean that the pathogen has undergone a mutation, which we have no proof of at present. “We can say, based on the results of the investigation and what we see in the hospital, that the clinical manifestation has changed,” Clementi points out, “perhaps also thanks to the more favourable environmental conditions. Now we are witnessing a different disease from what we saw in patients in March-April. The difference is extraordinary and this is something we consider very important. Confirmed, however, by the practice: not only do we no longer have new admissions for Covid in intensive care, but also in semi-intensive care. In the last few weeks few patients have arrived and all with mild symptoms”. How do you determine the amount of virus present in a subject?

“It is possible to do this thanks to various quantitative techniques, which I have developed in the past also for AIDS. These are systems developed in virology that allow the measurement of nucleic acids, in this case Sars-CoV-2’s RNA, the copies of the virus that can be detected in the patient’s rhino pharynx. Compared to AIDS investigations, the biological sample obtained from swabs may be less precise than the blood sample (because there is a risk of human error), but in our study of swabs we analyzed 200 and the result was unambiguous: an extremely significant difference between the viral load of patients admitted in March and those in May. In technical jargon, we are talking about a four-figure difference in significance. Visible even at a glance: the first samples examined are all grouped in the upper part of the graph, while the recent ones occupy the lower part”.

Co-adaptation to the host?

What are the causes of this “weakening” of the virus?

“We can say that Sars-CoV-2 now replicates less, but we are not sure about the origin of the phenomenon. One hypothesis is that it is co-adaptation to the host, as normally happens when a virus reaches humans. The interest of the microorganism is to survive inside the body and spread to other subjects: unattainable goals if the patient dies from the infection”.

What can we expect next autumn?

“No one can know for sure if there will be a new wave of contagion. We feared it for Sars but it hasn’t happened and, on the contrary, the virus has disappeared – specifies Massimo Clementi – As far as Sars-CoV-2 is concerned, there may be local outbreaks and it will be decisive how we will be able to react, isolating them, identifying contacts and entrusting patients to local medicine to leave the hospitals only to possible serious cases”. Guido Silvestri, virologist and professor at Emory University in Atlanta (USA), who spoke about “very solid laboratory data”, has helped in the San Raffaele study.

Original article

«Il coronavirus è meno capace di replicarsi»: lo studio del San Raffaele citato da Zangrillo

Un lavoro in via di pubblicazione mostra che il carico virale si è enormemente indebolito nei pazienti di maggio rispetto a quelli ricoverati nell’ospedale milanese a marzo



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