Do you remember when we wrote that the coronavirus had arrived in Italy between September and October 2019?1 There is a study privately conducted by a well-known company specializing in sports and occupational medicine that the epidemiologists and virologists most present in the television lounges refuse to read, least of all to comment, despite not telling strange stories of plots but trying to throw light on an element still overlooked, but crucial for the understanding of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic: the presence of sars-cov2 among us before November last year.
We talked about it directly with its author, an Apulian forensic doctor, dr. Pasquale Mario Bacco.
First of all, how was the research born and how was it conducted?
The study, conducted during the month of February, was financed by the American company that owns the Meleam brand, the company I work for. It analyzes the incidence of COVID-19 among the “clinically healthy” population, by searching for antibodies against the aforementioned virus. A general medical history was made about any family pathologies.
Three different kits were used as a derivation, so that the results could be compared. The test recognizes three specific protein elements of this coronavirus, with the possibility of cross reactivity close to zero.
I want to clarify that the serological test is not an alternative nor does it replace the nasopharyngeal swab; the test is a completion, as it provides information that the swab cannot give and precisely reveals at what stage the infection is and what immunological reactions have occurred in the host organism.
We speak of a limited sample of things, but still significant. The target, therefore, were work-active subjects excluding those who, due to pathologies or treatments in progress or for specific conditions, were not suitable to give a reliable result. You have therefore concentrated on a median age group, excluding minors and over 60s. With what results?
Out of 7.038 subjects, representing all Italian regions and the Republic of San Marino, 2 subjects tested positive for anti sars-cov2.365 antibodies, exactly 33,6%.
It is a pity to have excluded the elderly and young people but on the other hand it was a study of occupational medicine. What did you find out?
The part of our study that shows that the virus was already present in October 2019 is the total of the incidence of IgG antibodies. Out of 2.365 positives, IgG were present in 1.779 subjects, approximately 75%, with peaks of 81% in the north. Such a sample size and such a proportion of IgG took at least four months to reach. In addition, the hospital colleagues from the most important regions of the north confirmed, as reported by many media outlets, the unusual manifestation of atypical pneumonia starting from mid-October. At the basis of this spread there is undoubtedly the main feature of this virus, thevery high contagiousness̀ in a short time.
On the Diamond Princess, one infected infected seven. However, in less restricted environments it seems that the most realistic figure is between four and five. They seem huge figures, but Ebola does even worse: an infected one infects 18 of them. However, these poor christs soon have symptoms so evident and they fall into conditions so critical as to make Ebola easily traceable. For COVID-19 it is not so ...
In fact, the spread is fast but in over 90% of cases completely asymptomatic. Thus, the infection was able to spread mainly through young subjects who were the main vehicle of the virus.
From the chronicles of Lombardy between March and April we had the impression that COVID-19 was a real one man killer. The administrators themselves often seemed to credit the presence of a mutated or more aggressive virus to explain the massacre. Is this so? Are we facing a disease that endangers human life?
Due to its own characteristics, the virus is not capable of determining lethal clinical manifestations in healthy subjects. It acts in an important way until it leads to death, only when it finds an ineffective immune response, which occurs in very elderly subjects or with important voluptuous habits (drugs) or with serious contextual pathologies. So the death toll is the biggest hoax in this health emergency.
However, according to the same WHO, the death toll in the RSA, nursing homes for the disabled elderly, has been a real disaster. In addition to RSA, the virus appeared to circulate and cause significant damage especially in merchant and navy fleets, prisons, monasteries and cruise ships.
It is clear that considering the characteristics of this virus, closed places represent a danger to be evaluated very carefully.
Of course, it would have been enough to secure what she calls "closed places". It is not clear if one has not wanted or been able to do it. It seems evident that on a large ship or in a hospice the rules for staff and guests should have been adequate. The responsibility lies with those who could have done and did not do it, whether intentionally or not. Glad to read that in companies2 and in the RSA3 where precautionary measures have been implemented the virus has not infected the positive cases of colleagues or guests. Meanwhile, even politicians seem to notice that the vaccine is not around the corner. Rather…
Honestly, the vaccine for COVID19 cannot be made because the virus mutates very quickly; to defeat it, as in the case of HIV, you need antiviral therapy and plasmapheresis. At the moment we do not have antivirals, but we have plasmapheresis, in addition to a series of drugs that allow, without being decisive, to better face a possible clinical picture.
The reader, therefore, should be more careful and when he reads about incoming vaccines within a few months understand that the pharmaceutical industries also have excellent marketing offices. What can we expect at this point for the short term?
The activity of all coronaviruses (and this does not escape the rule) is determined by climatic conditions, the sars-cov2 must operate in a cold and humid climate to operate: this climate, in Italy the virus found it only in Lombardy and generally in the north. Hence the virus that has known the north; in central and southern Italy it never really manifested.
Clinical manifestations as well as lethality and mortalitỳ of sars-cov2 in the north will never occur in southern climates. This is why it was completely useless to create that alarmism in the descent to the south of some subjects previously residing in the north, after the start of the lockdown.
So, can we expect COVID-19 to disappear in the summer or will it simply become less lethal?
The fact is that the climate is the largest variable for sars-cov2: just look around to understand that the virus will become absolutely harmless in the summer, even if it continues to infect. But asymptomatic infection is a positive element, because of immunity, which for this virus lasts at least 6 months and maximum 2 years.
In conclusion, swabs can give anomalous results (false positives and false negatives) so much so that in countries like Belgium the cases and deaths of COVID-19 are also determined on the basis of the symptoms. In addition to the statistical data that emerged, Dr. Bacchus' study tells us about a type of test that is based on an element that contains everything about us and that is blood. The use of tampons and blood tests could better target institutions and companies in this very delicate phase.
Photo: web / presidency of the council of ministers