ROME: An Italian infectious disease doctor has said the coronavirus has become less dangerous and could disappear on its own without a vaccine.
Dr Matteo Bassetti, the head of the infectious diseases clinic at the San Martino hospital, said the virus appears to have become less potent, possibly due to genetic mutations.
“The clinical impression I have is that the virus is changing in severity,” Bassetti told a media outlet. “In March and early April, the patterns were completely different. People were coming to the emergency department with a very difficult to manage illness and they needed oxygen and ventilation, some developed pneumonia.”
He said in the past month the picture has completely changed in terms of patterns. “It was like an aggressive tiger in March and April but now it’s like a wild cat,” Bassetti said.
“Even elderly patients, aged 80 or 90, are now sitting up n bed and they are breathing without help. The same patients would have died in two or three days before.”
He said one of the reasons for the virus becoming weaker could be that it has mutated in response to social distancing measures.
“I think the virus has mutated because our immune system reacts to the virus and we have a lower viral load now due to the lockdown, mask-wearing, social distancing,” he said. “We still have to demonstrate why it’s different now.”
He said it is possible that the virus will be eradicated before researchers find a vaccine. “We have fewer and fewer people infected and it could end up with the virus dying out,” Bassetti said.
The infectious disease doctor has made similar claims in the past but sparked criticism for being over optimistic with some experts saying it could take years.
The coronavirus death toll in Italy since the outbreak came to light on February 21 now stands at 34,610, the world’s fourth-highest after the United States, Brazil and Britain.
The number of confirmed cases amounts to 238,275, the eighth-highest global tally while 21,212 people are still carrying the illness.
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