Italy: Less aggressive but more contagious, the English variant of covid 19 is in Rome

Rome: Less aggressive but more contagious, the English variant of covid is in Rome. Pier Luigi Bartoletti, head of the USCAR, the anti-contagiousness task force of volunteer physicians and nurses, says “The virus is adapting to the countermeasures we use to protect ourselves.”

Less aggressive but more contagious, the English variant of covid is spreading in Rome. It “punctures” masks in enclosed places, says Bartoletti. It also infects those who strictly adhere to safety regulations. So far, the results of the new variant are that it lowers the average age of the sick, and doctors’ abilities to reconstruct the path of contagion.

“More and more often,” explained Pier Luigi Bartoletti, the head of the USCAR anti-contagiousness task force of volunteer physicians and nurses to La Repubblica, “when we ask a patient who has just turned out to be positive how he or she contracted the virus, we hear back, I have no idea.'”

This remark could not be unfounded. “The virus is adapting to the countermeasures we use to protect ourselves,” Bartoletti says, “the English variant has a lower viral load, which does not mean it is less dangerous. Because if, instead of infecting a hundred people, it infects a thousand.

It is clear that it infects more sick people,” Bartoletti continued, “the lethality is measured by the percentage of sick people attacked by the virus”. His reasoning does not follow from a scientific study, but from the case histories found in the field by several family doctors, working from Roma Nord to Torre Angela.

“We do not have scientific evidence,” commented Francesco Buono to La Repubblica, in his office in Via di Villa Severini, in Corso Francia , “but we notice a greater diffusivity of the virus”. Out of 1,540 patients, Buono is currently treating “about twenty positive patients, without serious symptoms, most of them discovered to have covid by chance”.

Similar stories were heard across town. “Compared to October, I have more young people testing positive and with a lower viral load,” added Ombretta Papa, a family doctor in Torre Angela. “My twenty infected, out of 1,500 patients, are between twenty and fifty years old. Almost all of them do not have serious symptoms and they infect their families. Like the two thirty-year-olds who contacted me ten days ago, they are convinced they caught it while playing outdoor sports. They can’t reconstruct the link.”

“The English variant has a higher infectious capacity, up to 70%,” confirmed Walter Ricciardi, the scientific advisor to the Minister of Health for the coronavirus pandemic, and professor of Hygiene at the Catholic University of Rome. “If we wear surgical or cloth masks in a closed and unventilated place, without maintaining a safe distance, the English virus penetrates better into the mucous membranes and therefore the probability of infection increases”.

While “if we use the masks Ffp2, Ffp3, which exert a filtering action, the danger does not exist,” Professor Ricciardi assured, “we must take more rigid measures to avoid contagion. No study confirms its increased ability to survive longer on surfaces”.

On the contrary, “the transmission following contact with contaminated surfaces,” reasons Enrico Di Rosa, the director of the Public Health Hygiene Service of ASL Roma 1, “is marginal for all variants of the virus”.

Along the same line as Ricciardi, the epidemiologist Massimo Ciccozzi, professor of Medical Statistics and Molecular Epidemiology at Campus Biomedico in Rome said, “Although the British variant is more contagious, respecting three cornerstones: mask, distance and sanitizing gel, the probability of infection is minimal even with the mutated virus”.