The doctor claimed that people now infected are suffering less severe symptoms than people who were infected months ago[/caption]
Alberto Zangrillo is a doctor based in a hospital in Lombardy, the region in Italy most affected by the virus[/caption]
Speaking to the national broadcaster, RAI television, on Sunday he said: “In reality, the virus clinically no longer exists in Italy.
“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.”
The term viral load refers to the amount of virus in the blood.
The higher your viral load, the more virus you have circulating in your system – the lower the viral load the fewer viral particles in your body.
Zangrillo said some experts were too alarmist about the prospect of a second wave of infections and politicians needed to take into account the new reality.
“We’ve got to get back to being a normal country,” he said.
“Someone has to take responsibility for terrorising the country.”
With the UK two weeks behind Italy, it would mean that future infections in the UK could have less severe symptoms.
But Zangrillo’s claims have been disputed by a doctor based in the University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research.
‘NOT SUPPORTED BY ANYTHING’
Dr Oscar MacLean said: “These claims are not supported by anything in the scientific literature, and also seem fairly implausible on genetic grounds.
“The vast majority of SARS-CoV-2 mutations are extremely rare, and so whilst some infections may be attenuated by certain mutations, they are highly unlikely to be common enough to alter the nature of the virus at a national or global level.”
“Making these claims on the basis of anecdotal observations from swab tests is dangerous.
“Whilst weakening of the virus through mutations is theoretically possible, it is not something we should expect, and any claims of this nature would need to be verified in a more systematic way.
“Without significantly stronger evidence, no one should unnecessarily downplay the danger this highly virulent virus poses, and risk the ongoing society-wide response.”
The government urged caution at Dr Zangrillo’s statement saying it was far too soon to claim victory.
Sandra Zampa, an undersecretary at the health ministry, said in a statement: “Pending scientific evidence to support the thesis that the virus has disappeared … I would invite those who say they are sure of it not to confuse Italians.
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“We should instead invite Italians to maintain the maximum caution, maintain physical distancing, avoid large groups, to frequently wash their hands and to wear masks.”
Italy has the third-highest death toll in the world from COVID-19, with 33,415 people dying since the outbreak came to light on February 21.
It has the sixth-highest global tally of cases at 233,019.
However new infections and fatalities have fallen steadily in May and the country is unwinding some of the most rigid lockdown restrictions introduced anywhere on the continent.
CORONAVIRUS is getting weaker with new patients suffering less severe symptoms than those were infected two months ago, an Italian doctor has claimed. Alberto Zangrillo is the head of the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan in the northern region of Lombardy, which has borne the brunt of Italy’s coronavirus contagion. ⚠️ Read our coronavirus live […]