We avoid giving numbers on the virus

EDITORIAL COMMENT

How will we tackle the pandemic in the coming months? In a different way from the way we faced the wave of March and April? We hope so, because if this were not the case, the damage would be incalculable: from the social, economic and freedoms guaranteed by the rule of law.

We avoid giving numbers on the virus

We avoid giving numbers on the virus

EDITORIAL BY FABIO PONTIGGIA

We avoid giving numbers on the virus

Just yesterday the World Health Organization (WHO) sounded the alarm bell on the tiredness of the public: ‘Since the coronavirus arrived in Europe eight months ago - said the director general for Europe Hans Kluge - citizens they made huge sacrifices. An extraordinary cost that has exhausted all of us’. The generalization is wrong, because in many people there is a joyful predisposition to be controlled and commanded and in others there is a rigid preclusion to allow society to return to normality without other adjectives. But on the substance, the diagnosis hits the mark.

We should start with the numbers not to add to the fatigue reported by the WHO in a misleading way. We limit ourselves to Ticino. For our canton, we have comprehensive data which allows us to give the right proportions to today’s and yesterday’s numbers. It makes no sense to compare the infections detected in these days with the infections of the terrible weeks of March and April. Officially it appears that at that time there were 3,500 cases of infection. In fact, we now know that it was almost ten times more. This was confirmed by the seroprevalence study of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the Ticino population carried out by the cantonal doctor’s office between 16 May and 22 June on a sample of almost a thousand residents. It is worth remembering the numbers: 350 deaths, 3,551 people tested positive, 30,200 people infected. This gives a mortality rate (ratio between deaths and population) of 0.1% and a lethality rate (ratio between deaths and infections) of 1.2%. Now the data of the second survey, carried out between 3 August and 5 September, are awaited with interest: we will have a precise picture of the evolution of the infections, beyond the random numbers of the so-called tampons.

This radiography was confirmed by another epidemiological study, the one conducted in Ticino, as part of the national Corona Immunitas project , by the Institute of Public Health of USI and by the Department of Business Economics, Health and Social of SUPSI. The survey quantified seroprevalence on a representative sample: 647 residents have been subjected to serological testing since July. For now, the population aged between 20 and 64 has been considered. 11% had been affected by the virus in the previous months: 23,000 people out of 210,000 residents of that age group. The official data of the infections in this band are instead stopped at 2000 cases. We therefore have the same proportion found in the other study: the actual infections were ten times more.

We do not know how many people are actually infected with the virus today, in the vast majority of cases without consequences for their health. However, it is certain that we are very far from the levels reached in March and April. No scientific studies have so far detected, documented and ascertained a weakening of SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, if the mortality rate and the lethality rate are unchanged, it follows that today we have a real number of infected people significantly lower than last spring, otherwise those who claim that the virus has weakened a lot would be right. It would be nice if that were the case, but we have no objective elements to confirm this. The last coronavirus death in Ticino dates back to 12 June last. Today, almost a month and a half after the end of the summer holidays, we have only four people hospitalized, none in intensive care and none with assisted breathing. We repeat therefore: to say that we are back with the infections at the levels of mid-April is nonsense nonsense. In mid-April in Ticino an average of five people died every day from the pandemic.

While waiting for the vaccine, we don’t have to do like Trump, but we don’t have to panic either. Hand hygiene, distance, no groups without taking precautions, reasoned caution, mask where it is mandatory. And no to the government of virologists. There are curves far more worrying than those of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19. In Ticino, due to the lockdown and spring closures, we have 1,600 more unemployed than last year. People, often families, who have lost their jobs. September unemployment data will be released today: we fear bad numbers.

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