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Virus still potent says WHO, after claim by Italian doctor

The World Health Organization stressed on Monday that the new coronavirus has not suddenly become less pathogenic, following claims by a leading Italian doctor that COVID-19 had lost some of its potency.
“That is not the case at all,” WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told a virtual press briefing.
The claims by Alberto Zangrillo sparked a furore on Monday, with the Italian government urging caution.
“In reality, the virus clinically no longer exists in Italy,” said Zangrillo, head of the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, the capital of the northern Lombardy region, which has been the worst-hit by the pandemic.
“The swabs performed over the past 10 days have showed a viral load that is absolutely infinitesimal in quantitative terms compared to those carried out a month or two months ago,” he told RAI television on Sunday.
That prompted cries of disbelief from other experts, who said Zangrillo may have mistaken a higher detection rate of asymptomatic cases for diminished potency of the virus.
The WHO’s Ryan, an expert epidemiologist, spelled out the dangers in believing that the virus is becoming less potent.