“The current situation, despite the summer flare-up of infections, is not comparable to that of the pandemic as we experienced it in 2020 and 2021”. To say it is Matteo Bassetti Director of the Infectious Diseases Clinic of the San Martino Polyclinic in Genoa.
So are we at the end of a nightmare that lasted two years? According to the expert, Covid remains a “special observed” but we must get out of the logic of the emergency: “We will have to learn to live with the virus, knowing that there could be peaks of infections in certain periods of the year, such as for the flu seasonal. ECDC data say it: if Covid was the third leading cause of death in the world in 2020 and 2021, it is likely that from 2022 and beyond it will become one of many diseasescurrently it is already between the eighth and the tenth place ».
Centaurus, Bassetti: “If it takes over, possible flare-up in October”
In Italy it achieves a high immunity
In support of his words, Bassetti takes stock of the situation in Italy and of the summer wave: «To date it certainly exists high circulation of the virusbut in fact few people are hospitalized due to pneumonia and with a clinical picture due to Covid ». Is the virus therefore less dangerous? “More than anything else, we are more immune against severe forms, thanks to the vaccine that covers 90% of the population and the high contagiousness of the Omicron variant”.
Hence also the criticism of the daily bulletin of infections which continues to report an average of between 100 and 200 deaths a day for Covid and a high number of hospitalizations: «The reality is that we have a problem in counting cases. In the official bulletins, those hospitalized for other pathologies who have a positive swab are also counted as “hospitalizations for covid”. Just as deaths due to other diseases or problems, but which had a positive swab, are also considered “deaths from Covid”. In this way we don’t really realize the situation ». Instead of the daily count, Bassetti proposes the idea of a weekly case bulletin: “We are the last country in the world that maintains this system, which serves no purpose other than to create panic among the population.”
What will happen in the fall?
For the autumn the virologist underlines that an increase in infections is possible, but this should not alarm us or make us return to the logic of the emergency or even to the lockdown: «We know that the virus, like many others, has seasonal peaks, flare-ups. We must act rationally using i vaccines to protect us from severe forms and manage the infection. This is what we have done in the past years with vaccination and which has allowed us to experience a very different 2022 from the previous two years “.
Vaccines, the updated one is on the way
To ensure that the virus remains “under control” the vaccine is a fundamental tool and for this Bassetti draws attention to fourth dose: «Many took the third dose in January, the defenses tend to decline with time and a reminder is important. For now, the summer vaccination campaign for the fourth dose did not have the desired results, involving just over a million people. To be calm next year we need a much broader campaign in October aimed at the frail and the over 60s ». The hope is also that of an “updated vaccine against variants”, which should be approved this week by Ema ».
Centaurus unknown, is it more dangerous?
Matteo Bassetti reassures about Centaurus, a sub-variant of Omicron 2 (scientific name Omicron Ba 2.75). The new variant that appeared in India was detected in Italy last week: «It is possible that it will become predominant, together with Omicron 5, given that according to studies it seems more contagious. However, from the available data it does not seem to be more serious, it does not have a more worrying clinical picture ».
Quarantine for positives “to be deleted”
In short, with careful monitoring and the use of vaccines it is possible that after two years of pandemic it is possible to get out of the emergency and to live “peacefully” with the virus. This would allow Covid to be treated like other diseases, eliminating the last remaining restriction, that is the quarantine for positives: “It had to be done three months ago, it is already late” concludes Bassetti “I am for a light quarantine, stay home as long as you have symptoms, when these end go out with the mask. Politics has instead chosen a “hard line” which, in my opinion, was counter-prudent: maintaining the mandatory quarantine to date, the result is that people do DIY tampon and do not declare themselves as positive. And the virus continues to circulate ».