Covid China, Italy analysis: what Pregliasco, Bassetti and Clementi say

The covid wave in China scares. The infections, in the country from which the pandemic started in 2020, are rapidly increasing after the abandonment of the restrictions. The theme ends up in the spotlight and also captures the attention of experts in Italy. “It is necessary not to be found unprepared for what could happen”, warns the virologist Fabrizio Pregliasco, commenting to Adnkronos Salute the return of the molecular swab for the search for Sars-CoV-2 at Milan Malpensa airport, for everyone passengers/operators from the Asian country.

“The strengthening of checks on travelers arriving from the affected areas is right”, says the professor of the State University of Milan, who also calls for “the increase in virological surveillance, with viral monitoring and sequencing”. Because the Chinese situation “perhaps it is something that will have no consequences – reasons Pregliasco – but such a wide and rapid diffusion, in a context in which many new variants can emerge, must be kept absolutely at bay with institutional and international interventions”, specifies the doctor . His invitation is to “keep attention high, with a role that must also belong to Europe and the World Health Organization”, he hopes.

All “precisely so as not to be found unprepared – Pregliasco repeats – from a ‘pre-employment’ perspective, without hysteria or negativity and always with a reminder of the importance of vaccination. We are serene and calm, we resume our lives because we have battled for years – he concludes – but we remain vigilant”.

“The Covid situation in China worries me very much: there are a billion and a half people and, with a virus that will probably infect around 50% of the population, think of how many rounds this pathogen will make. The risk is to have a fire return’ of the people who will travel and arrive here and who perhaps will be able to bring more contagious variants, even if we hope not more dangerous. After all, however, if a variant is resistant to vaccinations it is automatically more dangerous and I hope that all this will not happen”, says Matteo Bassetti, director of the infectious diseases clinic of the San Martino polyclinic in Genoa.

“In my opinion, urgent action is needed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and by the whole world to lend a hand to China at this moment, to send vaccines that work and medicines, antivirals. I think the time has come to do it, because the world is global and, if things go wrong in one part of the globe, they risk coming back in even worse shape”, he concludes.

“China pays a price for having made a different strategy from the rest of the world, that of ‘zero Covid’, coupled with an ineffective vaccine”, is the reflection of the virologist Massimo Clementi. “Zero Covid and an ineffective vaccine like the one Western countries have made – he explains to Adnkronos Salute – and now China is paying an infection price, but it is not yet clear how high in terms of serious disease. And we hope that this does not determine a genetic change of the virus”, says the expert who has directed the Microbiology and Virology Laboratory of the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan for years.

The danger of a new variant, which arises on the wave of the high circulation of the virus in a population of 1.5 billion people, exists. But if it were to happen, “as long as the variant falls within the Omicron family, I don’t think there is a big risk,” Clementi points out.

“China’s problem is that it’s all a bit blurred by the fact that we don’t quite understand” the situation, observes the specialist. “Because first there was this draconian will to pursue Zero Covid and now, suddenly with a snap of the fingers, everyone was free. This objectively seems a bit strange. There are reasons, obviously: they realized that the approach isolated China, also economically. All this, however, did not happen just in one moment, it happened over time. And it is a bit strange – concludes Clementi – that for such a large country there is such a sudden decision” to change anti-Covid policies from total closure to opening.

Covid China, Italy analysis: what Pregliasco, Bassetti and Clementi say