World Health Organization experts and a range of other scientists said on Monday there was no evidence to support an assertion by a high profile Italian doctor that the coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic has been losing potency.
Professor Alberto Zangrillo, head of intensive care at Italy’s San Raffaele Hospital in Lombardy, which bore the brunt of Italy’s COVID-19 epidemic, on Sunday told state television that the new coronavirus “clinically no longer exists”.
But WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, as well as several other experts on viruses and infectious diseases, said Zangrillo’s comments were not supported by scientific evidence.
There is no data to show the new coronavirus is changing significantly, either in its form of transmission or in the severity of the disease it causes, they said.
“In terms of transmissibility, that has not changed, in terms of severity, that has not changed,” Van Kerkhove told reporters.
It is not unusual for viruses to mutate and adapt as they spread, and the debate on Monday highlights how scientists are monitoring and tracking the new virus. The COVID-19 pandemic has so far killed more than 370,000 people and infected more than 6 million.