Covid, the Italian in Fauci’s team: “It’s more endemic than pandemic but still a problem”

Covid, the Italian in Fauci’s team: “It’s more endemic than pandemic but still a problem”

Is it time to downgrade Covid from the status of public health emergency of international concern? “I am cautious. Certainly, if we photograph the situation today, it is more endemic than pandemic. I would not be surprised if the experts of the World Health Organization say that it is no longer a global emergency, but I hope they do not say it in those terms. Not we can drag out an emergency when it’s actually no longer a pressing and acute problem. Right now Covid is a chronic problem and it needs to be recognized as such, but it’s not that it’s not important for that reason. I don’t know what terms they’ll use, but it will be important from a communication point of view how this upcoming assessment is presented. This was explained to Salute by Stefano Bertuzzi, CEO of the American Society for Microbiology and Anthony Fauci’s right hand in what was once the White House’s anti-Covid task force, today host of an event in the Milan branch of the Catholic University , the university in which he graduated (in the Piacenza campus).

Bertuzzi has experienced the pandemic since the toughest phases in the USA: “I will have slept 2 hours in 6 months”, he smiles. Back then there were problems with Covid tests and reagents missing and crucial decisions to be made. And he admits: “The situation, from my point of view, has undoubtedly changed. We will see what the recommendations of the WHO experts are, who will certainly evaluate all this in the most careful and responsible way possible”, today in the meeting of the Committee which will have to decide whether Covid still poses a global threat. “I hope the message is that Covid remains a pathology to which we should pay close attention. For example, long Covid is a very serious problem and about which we know quite little after all”. And then there are “the fragile” and “the fact that we don’t know what will happen. In short, it’s not that everything is in order. In my opinion it will be important to make it as clear as possible to the population that it is not something to be taken lightly, but that it is It is possible to lead a largely normal life, with certain precautions. And in any case, always be careful: things can change”.

“Even from the point of view of how people approach each other – reasons Bertuzzi – if everything is an emergency at a certain point nothing becomes an emergency anymore and therefore it could be very worrying”. Of course, he explains, “we are here now in person at an event, 1 or 2 years ago it would have been unthinkable, we would all have been two-dimensional on a screen. On the other hand, I arrived here by subway and I wear a mask on public transport still. In short, it’s very different from before. The real emergency was when we didn’t have vaccines and we didn’t have a healing immunization. You get out of pandemics with immunization, whether it’s vaccinated or natural, it’s still like this”.

Today Covid, he analyzes, “is becoming an endemic situation, but the fact that a viral form is endemic does not mean that it is not a problem. It is just different. Even the flu itself is a dangerous disease to be seriously considered – reasons – Saying ‘it’s just a flu’ is wrong, because it’s a serious matter, it has a mortality rate of more than 1% and it’s significant. But it’s not like when the flu season begins we stop traveling or we never meet again, all in all we manage to lead a fairly normal life. Well, in my opinion it’s really happening even with Covid right now, thanks precisely to vaccines and the fact that the population in general is immunized “.

“Two problems remain,” Bertuzzi points out. “The first are those fragments of the population, small but not negligible, represented by immunocompromised and fragile people who have an immune system that is unable to respond. This is a problem, it remains a serious emergency. And the second thing is that we don’t know what will happen. We don’t think it’s enough for us to say that Covid is endemic, the problem is whether the virus agrees with us. Its viral capabilities have been fantastic. It’s right to still be concerned”, as the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We don’t know which variants can emerge, new ones could come that recreate a different situation”.

Tests for those arriving from China – “The Covid tests on those arriving from a specific country are a difficult problem – reasons Bertuzzi – From a practical point of view it is very difficult to have these forms of surveillance because they can be done with certainty on direct flights, less so on connections. For which I don’t know how much it can actually work. If the concept is to prevent new variants it doesn’t work, if it is aimed at surveillance then yes, and it is important to have it. But from an implementation point of view it is a difficult measure, as it is quite It is difficult to understand the fact that “only some countries” are taken into consideration. I am not against measures” of this type, he specifies, “but we must also be aware of the limits of this approach”.

Kraken’s Call – “In the US, much attention is being paid” to the variant of Sars-CoV-2 baptized Kraken on social media, i.e. XBB.1.5, “because it actually seems to have mutations that make some things more complex. Pathogenicity does not seem to have increased at the moment, this is the positive thing. But – Bertuzzi warns – the more transmission increases”, as appears to be the case with Kraken, “the more the virus circulates and the more it can change. So it is simply a bit of a reminder that we are not out of it from the Covid problem. The virus circulates abundantly – he warns – and can always hold surprises. So these studies” which monitor the variants of Sars-CoV-2 “are very important and must be continued with great care, because undesirable results could occur significant”.

The future of vaccines – Looking to the future, will the anti-Covid vaccines be annual? “I don’t know exactly what the Covid vaccination framework and method will be, which will then become standard – reflects Bertuzzi – But, from the point of view of scientific research, I am particularly excited by the studies that are being carried out, for example, on ‘pan-coronavirus’ vaccines ‘. That is, being able to have vaccines that can have a broader spectrum, as is also being done for the flu. They are difficult vaccines” to obtain, “but it is not impossible and ultimately, if it were possible to have a pan vaccine -flu and a pan-coronavirus vaccine, it might not even be annual, but maybe have a longer cadence “. Science is working on it, “there are no products available at the moment – he is keen to clarify -. And they are also working on mucosal vaccines. What is happening now is that the virus seems to have a fantastic ability to replicate in the nasal and upper respiratory tracts , in the mucous membranes” of the nose and mouth, “while it is much slower in the lungs. In fact, we mainly see upper tract infections even for those cases in which there is a breakdown of the immune barrier. And consequently it is believed that spray vaccines , as for the flu, could be particularly significant. Unfortunately, systems have not yet been found to generate a sufficient stable immune response. But I find it a way to explore “.

“Let’s not relax” – Going back to the present, “Italy has exceptional immunization rates” against Covid “that we dream of in the US – says Bertuzzi – The health authorities, the population, all the people who have managed to collaborate in this direction. I’m a bit skeptical about this general relaxation because, I repeat, we really have to find a way to live with the virus, to lead normal lives, but let’s not forget that it hasn’t passed”. The
The country “initially had a very difficult response to the Covid-19 pandemic, because it was the first to be hit”, after China. “But once this first phase, a bit confusing for everyone, passed, his was a fantastic response. I was really very impressed by the systems set up by the country for vaccination”.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent News

Editor's Pick