FACTS

    Some US and Italian doctors have suggested that the coronavirus may be losing potency and affecting humans differently than it had been previously. “The virus may be changing. Some patterns suggest the potency is diminished,” said Dr. Donald Yealy, who is chair of emergency medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. They have successfully treated over 500 patients in the last two months and have seen a drastic decrease in the need for ventilators. The head of intensive care at Italy’s San Raffaele Hospital and former physician for the previous Italian Prime Minister, Professor Alberto Zangrillo agreed, explaining, “The result was unambiguous: an extremely significant difference between the viral load of patients admitted in March compared to” patients in May.

    SUPPORT

    A study which supports Zangrillo’s suggestions and was conducted by Italian scientist Massimo Clementi is scheduled to be released next week. In addition, Matteo Bassetti, MD, PhD, head of the Infectious Diseases Clinic at the San Martino-IST University Hospital, agreed that the “strength the virus had two months ago is not the same strength it has today.” He said his findings are not lab results but pointed to his experience treating patients over the past months. Lee Riley, MD, chair of infectious disease division at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health, said the doctor’s claims are very likely, noting that “over time these mutations can accumulate, and the virulence of the virus can ultimately lessen.”

    CRITICISM

    The World Health Organization (WHO) disagrees, stating there is no evidence whatsoever to support this claim and “this is still a killer virus.” Other doctors and experts around the world have agreed that these statements are dangerous and unfounded and have warned that we could still experience another round of the virus. Dr. Oscar MacLean of the Glasgow Centre for Virus Research said that simple observation is not enough, but these suggestions must be “verified in a more systematic way.”

    “There is no scientific evidence for there having been a change in the coronavirus. It’s a highly transmittable and highly contagious disease. We need to be as on guard as ever.”

    Dr. Leana Wen

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