Top Italian Epidemiologist Says New Coronavirus Outbreaks No Cause for Concern

People enjoy a gondola ride past the Doge's Palace on May 29, 2020 in Venice, as the country eases its lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. (Photo by ANDREA PATTARO / AFP) (Photo by ANDREA PATTARO/AFP via Getty Images)
ANDREA PATTARO / AFP

ROME — The president of the Italian Society of Anti-infection Therapy (SITA) said Monday scattered new outbreaks of coronavirus in Italy present no real cause for concern.

Dr. Matteo Bassetti, who is also the director of Infectious Diseases at the San Martino Hospital in Genoa, said that all the signs are that the epidemic continues to decline in Italy and even where new positives occur, they represent a significantly lower viral load and in no way suggest a second wave of the virus.

“I believe that continuing to give the numbers of new positives without differentiating who they are and what they have or whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic, how many new positives are after previous negativity, how many are hospitalized and how many are observed at home, how many are in ICU and how many in nursing homes is useless, except for making a great mess,” Dr. Bassetti said.

“This mess confuses people by alarming public opinion, which doesn’t seem to want to stop talking about the pandemic and the prophesied second or third waves,” he added.

“Do the new outbreaks give cause for concern? Are we witnessing a new wave of serious cases to handle in the hospital and in intensive care? Absolutely not,” he said.

Dr. Bassetti’s assessment of Italy’s situation mirrors an analysis on the U.S. situation published in the New York Post.

In that article, John Ziegler proposed that an obsessive focus on new cases rather than on how many patients wind up in ICU and what is happening to the death rate ignores the most relevant data and irresponsibly stirs up panic.

Significantly higher testing means that more cases are bound to emerge, but many of them will be far less serious than the highly symptomatic cases that brought New York to its knees in April.

Obviously the ‘new case’ data point “is both real and relevant but it is also now extremely misleading,” Ziegler states. “By incompetently using the same measure of what a ‘positive’ virus test meant in April, to what it now means in July, the news media is in the process of, quite effectively, sabotaging America’s recovery from this crisis.”

“While the development has gotten scandalously little news coverage, the daily numbers of deaths with/of Covid has been declining with remarkable consistency for well over two months now,” Ziegler notes.

In his own analysis, Dr. Bassetti has insisted that the viral load of current coronavirus cases in Italy is significantly lower than what doctors were seeing in March and April.

The once-potent coronavirus “has gone from being a tiger to a pussy cat,” Bassetti said in late June.

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