For me, being an Italian expat and representing my country with pride has always been a great source of pride. For the past 5 years, living abroad, I conclude all the interventions at the scientific meetings with a final slide where the tricolor flag is clearly visible and written: PROUD TO BE ITALIAN.
These days, however, precisely due to the fact of being Italian, during an international meeting in which I participated, I found myself in great embarrassment during the meeting with the various delegates from all over the world. Hands retracted to the convenient ritual of introduction or greeting, speeches interrupted when the interlocutor discovered my nationality and even someone who awkwardly strove with more or less evident gestures to warn his colleagues to stay far away from me as an Italian.
Paradoxical and demeaning. You feel a surreal feeling on you. You remember in a moment that character of nineteenth-century novels who was pointed out by people during the plague epidemic. That character today could be called: UNTORE 2.0.
The cause of this embarrassing and surreal situation is probably also due to the fact that, just the day before the event in which I attended, the news of the cancellation of the UAE-TOUR cycling race spread because 2 Italians of the Italian staff had tested positive. to the Coronavirus swab. Sitting alone on my table, in a sort of voluntary isolation, I stopped to reflect and I started asking myself questions trying to rationally give me answers as a man, as an Italian and also as a doctor.
But why all this? Why this phobic, overfed, convulsive and rampant alarmism almost more than the virus itself?
The greatest responsibility in my opinion is certainly the spread of wrong and distorted information on the Coronavirus phenomenon.
The information that is provided to the user comes from a global copy and paste made by anyone who has a "window" open on the web and who therefore feels authorized to "throw" all his often badly recycled material. Words like Alarm, Danger, Contagion, Fear, Pandemic echo, in a psychosis fueled by a confusing series of confirmations and denials, by ever-increasing numbers that are churned out at a much faster speed than the one with which the virus spreads, all inserted in contexts and apocalyptic scenarios sculpted as bloody estimates on a globe of more or less large red polka dots. This aberrant mix of negative news that grows and mounts more and more scares and scares everyone!
I absolutely do not want to minimize the extent of the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, which undoubtedly represents an important threat that must be controlled and monitored with all available means.
It all started in China in the last months of last year, bringing to the fore this new virus which, due to its particular shape, recalls a small crown belonging to the Corona virus family. Normally these viruses are the cause of the common cold and trivial upper respiratory infections. However, this virus seems to be a little different from its cousins, as coming from the animal kingdom, it expresses genetic characteristics that make it much more infectious and therefore easier to transmit. Gradually, no more and no less than what happens every year with influenza or other seasonal epidemic diseases, it is spreading rapidly on a global scale. Given this rapid widespread escalation, a few days ago the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the alert level from "high" to "very high" and the various States began to implement increasingly important containment and protection measures and restrictive, in an attempt to stem the spread of the epidemic as much as possible, thus isolating all the areas at greatest risk, among which unfortunately there is also Italy. Each State then perceived the directives in a more or less restrictive way to isolate the UNTORI 2.0.
But how? Is Italy one of the "hottest" outbreaks? Why Italy?
Until a week ago we were all ready to point out the Chinese as greasers and now it is we who are pointed out as such and perhaps also by the Chinese ... Everything that is perceived as strange and unclear inspires fear, creates panic and alarms us but at the same it intrigues us. The Italian then often does it in a melodramatic way which however, at least for this time, manifests itself much more in the North than in the South and with a lot of parochial teasing that populate the web.
To understand things better, I would first like to analyze the battlefield in which this alleged "great" war that "threatens" the human species takes place.
On the one hand there is the fierce army of COVID-19 with its particular infectivity and diffusive capacity and with its “particular” genetic makeup probably derived from Chinese bats. To survive, this small organism needs to enter human cells, which it uses to replicate. Reached maturation the small viruses "are born" by destroying the cell a bit like it happened in the well-known movie Alien. The location where this battle takes place is in the upper airways (nose and throat) where the virus comes into contact with our body. It is right here that he unleashes his surprise attack. We realize this after a few days - it is thought that the virus has incubated for 4-15 days - because the classic symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, low-grade fever and a dry and irritated cough appear. Only in the most serious cases, especially in the weaker defied patients, the microorganism can reach the lungs, creating an inflammation that seriously compromises the oxygen exchanges necessary for our life, seriously compromising breathing. In these cases the virus, not finding too much resistance, is particularly devastating and can even be fatal. The same lethal effect can also have the Flu (and any other virus) but now it is only an appearance, it is no longer in fashion, even if quietly it kills much more than COVID19.
On the other side of the battlefield are the men, who are slightly displaced at first, but who with their outpost sentries immediately alert the headquarters that there is a threat in place. This is how the ultra-millennial and highly specialized defensive weaponry called IMMUNE SYSTEM is activated. This is a wonderful mechanism that when it recognizes an external agent is able to immediately take his fingerprints, perform his "facial recognition", to create the most suitable weapons necessary to then destroy it and record it in memory forever. The defense action begins immediately from the appearance of those aforementioned symptoms and we begin to react by starting to raise the temperature which alone gives a lot of annoyance to the virus.
Right now we are taking measures to the enemy. This reaction is faster and more effective the stronger and more reactive our defense system is with its fermenting white blood cells. The "armament" phase takes several days to complete and it is at that point that the counterattack is launched which literally annihilates the virus in no time preventing it from doing further damage. And woe to him if he comes back: the soldiers of the immune system recognize him immediately, being by now registered, and at any possible re-contact they immediately electrocute him by bombarding him with antibodies. So, if you have an efficient immune system, you are perfectly capable of defending yourself against COVID-19 and not only.
Even today it is not known exactly how long the incubation period is and it is in this period that patients can be positive for the virus and in most cases they are still completely ASYMPTOMATIC and therefore difficult to detect. They are the UNTORI 2.0.
This phase of "limbo", in which the infected still have no symptoms, is precisely the factor that plays most in favor of the virus in our virtual battlefield and that allows the virus to spread in "silence" and quickly.
However, all this happens ALWAYS and for any other virus!
But if this has always been the case, why did panic over a cold virus this time?
The problem today is that around our battlefield there are "observers" with all their cameras aimed, ready to zoom in on every little detail. These magnifying glasses are deforming lenses and focus only on what is scariest, on the negative, because at the same time it also makes more news.
Media amplification and global disinformation do the rest with devastating social, psychological and economic consequences. The mass goes adrift and it is also very easy to fly it and there are those who already take advantage of this by selling the Amuchina at the price of caviar. This is where speculations are born both in a positive and negative sense, so much so that some even think it is a well-designed world conspiracy against China.
The observers on the sidelines in fact continue to show us those maps, updated maniacally second by second, with all the numbers of infected and victims with the most risky forecasts and the growth trend. We have all seen those more or less large RED dots spread across the globe.
WHY ARE THEY RED? WHY REALLY RED? BECAUSE RED IS EASILY ASSOCIATED WITH BLOOD, ALARM, EMERGENCY ... STAY WELL IMPRESSED AND SCARED !!!
I would like to play on equal terms.
Why don't the media start counting and showing dots perhaps green in color as a worthy representation of all those recovered patients thus giving the deserved prominence to all those little battles won by infected men? In this way we highlight the progressive and inexorable defeat that the cursed virus in red will soon suffer. It is not done because it is more impactful to follow the RED spots that sanction the negativity and the inexorable advance of the "enemy"!
And the mass follows suit and goes to rob a supermarket for supplies ... you never know that the world becomes all red!
Why doesn't anyone say that at 24-26 degrees or under the sun's rays, this virus melts like snow in the sun?
Why does no one say that this virus also has the great ability to mutate rapidly and that maybe today's virus is already different from that of Wuhan patient zero 3 months ago? It may also change to a less aggressive form of wanting to think positively.
Who knows why I like those other observers who use the microscope lens without distortion but with many magnifications much more. These researchers are turning this little crowned virus like a sock. Two Italian researchers were among the first to identify and study it, and Chinese scientists and researchers are also moving a lot, in close contact with the "raw material", who probably feeling wounded in pride, are extremely fierce in studying and fighting it in the best and fastest way possible. There are many possible defense strategies and it does not have to be a vaccine that would take a long time anyway.
COVID-19 rest assured it will lose its war! We will defeat it thanks to our immune system ...
It is certain that we will defeat it thanks to our immune system and scientists will find ways to help those with this particularly weak defense system, and soon we will see that that polka dot globe will gradually become greener and less and less red.
In fact, our immunity has always worked against the "invaders", it becomes increasingly good at doing so and is multitasking that is able to fight on different fronts ...
It is necessary to instill TRUST and POSITIVITY in those who read and seek information, not terror and fear !!! This also avoids confusion.
The RECOMMENDATIONS that the WHO has been spreading for several weeks are nothing more than an invitation to apply those hygienic and civic common sense rules that should always be carried out even in times of unwell.