Bergamo, Brescia, and Cremona in Italy are reaching “community immunity” and are not suffering from a large “second wave” of the Chinese coronavirus, according to reports. Bergamo was the hardest-hit city in Italy earlier this year.
A significant proportion of Bergamo residents who have already been infected with the Chinese coronavirus might be the very thing protecting them from a “second wave,” according to a report by POLITICO.
In the spring, all eyes were on Bergamo as the city suffered a catastrophic loss, making the province a poster child for the nation’s tragic encounter with the Wuhan virus.
Now, while other parts of the country are experiencing a “second wave” of the virus, Bergamo appears relatively untouched. Several experts suggest the low figures point to a degree of “community immunity” that has reduced the risk of new outbreaks.
Chief anaesthetist at the Bergamo’s main hospital, Luca Lorini, refers to the phenomenon as a “natural vaccine.”
The report added that a much higher percentage of Bergamo residents have developed some resistance to the Wuhan virus since the spring, compared to the Lombardy region and Italy as a whole. Some 57 per cent of 10,000 people tested in June were found to have antibodies.
A study published by the statistics agency ISTAT and Italy’s health ministry also showed that one in four residents of the Bergamo province have antibodies — compared with 1 in 13 residents in the province of Milan and one in 40 in Italy as a whole.
Moreover, 96 per cent of infections could have gone undetected by health authorities, according to projections by the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Bergamo.
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Experts say that the data explains why Bergamo does not appear to be getting hit by the second wave of the Chinese coronavirus. Meanwhile, areas that were less affected earlier this year have seen major outbreaks.
Between October 2 and 23, for example, cases of the virus increased only 7 per cent in Bergamo, compared to the rest of the region, which saw as much as a 65 per cent increase, reports Politico.
Massimo Galli, an expert in infectious diseases at the University of Milan, says that people who were exposed to the Wuhan virus during the first wave are likely to have antibodies that protected them from catching the disease during the second wave.
“I am confident that the great majority of people that have had virus are protected from this infection or if they get a different strain, they will have a mild infection,” said Galli.
The provinces of Brescia and Cremona — which were also hit hard by the Chinese virus earlier this year — are recording some of the lowest numbers of new infections in the past few weeks, as well.
“The correlation is very, very significant,” said Giuseppe Remuzzi, a professor and director of the Mario Negri Institute, which conducted its own antibody tests. “In northern areas where it circulated [in the spring], the virus can’t find people to infect.”
Luca Foresti, a physicist and CEO of the Centro Medico Agostino, say, “we know that when the reproductive rate of the virus is over 1, then cases increase exponentially.”
“If it is not much above 1, even 15 to 25 per cent of people with antibodies can be enough to send [the reproductive rate of the virus] under 1 and make the number of new cases to decrease exponentially,” he added.
“This small difference can make a big difference in a few days,” said Foresti. “I call it small herd immunity.”
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