Professor Giancarlo Icardi, director of San Martino Hygiene, speaks: he is the only Ligurian referent of the Higher Institute of Health
Genoa – How widespread is the Delta variant? Is it more dangerous than the others? How do you defend yourself? What are the forecasts for the summer? To these and other questions he answers Professor Giancarlo Icardi, San Martino Hygiene Director, the only Ligurian referent of the Higher Institute of Health.
What is the Delta variant?
“It’s a modification of the Covid-19 virus. The first cases in Europe were discovered in Finland where a cluster with 98 infected people developed. From there the international alarm went off. Just yesterday, the Ministry of Health called for the utmost attention to be paid to those arriving from India, where the first cases had been discovered, from Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom ”.
Is the alarm worldwide?
“On June 14, the World Health Organization reported that cases of the Delta variant were reported in 73 countries, albeit in low numbers. However, he used this expression “it is ready to take hold because it is more transmissible” ».
Is fear back in the UK?
“It has become the predominant variant and now a Lancet study reports that 91% of variant cases are Delta.”
What features does it have?
«It is transmitted very easily and therefore must be kept under control. According to the studies coming from the United Kingdom, its transmissibility is 40% higher than the English one, which is already very high ».
“Studies done on the spike protein revealed a small mutation that favored transmissibility.”
Is it more dangerous than the English variant?
“Not at the moment. In the United Kingdom, the clinical picture seems to be comparable to that of Covid 19 with one small difference: less cough. However, the other symptoms remain: fever, sore throat, headache and nose that tail. However, it emerged that hospitalizations have increased, compared to the English variant, among people who have other diseases. However, there are not yet sufficient elements to establish whether complications and deaths have increased ”.
How can you defend yourself from the Delta variant?
«The most powerful weapon is vaccination which has proved effective, but it is important to complete the vaccination cycle. Whoever has taken the first dose should have no doubts and do the second too. It protects itself, restricts the circulation of the virus and promotes what is called herd immunity. Even in a study done by San Martino the vaccine proved effective in 96.5% of cases ».
Also for the Delta variant?
“Yes, we are at least around 80% effective, a more than reassuring percentage”.
What is the Italian situation of the variants?
“There are four variants: alpha, beta, gamma and delta. Alfa, that is English, has a circulation of more than 60%, while the South African and Brazilian ones slightly exceed 30%. The Delta fluctuates around 5%. Today a national study coordinated by the Ministry of Health is starting which will take into consideration 750-800 samples: at the end of the month we will have a clearer picture of the real diffusion in Italy ».
And in Liguria?
“We are five cases of the Delta variant, discovered by the San Martino laboratory on swabs, with certain characteristics, coming from all over Liguria, including private laboratories”.
Will we be able to spend a quiet summer?
“I would say yes. 50% of Italians are already vaccinated, so coverage is good even if it is essential that those who have taken the first dose complete the vaccination cycle. Italy is in the white area, the measures have been loosened and it is right to allow the mask not to be used outdoors. That must not remain an optional: I recommend that you always have one in your bag, pocket, car or under the seat of the scooter. In closed places it must be used, as well as outdoors if there is a crowd: I understand that it can be annoying, but it limits the spread. And then let’s get vaccinated if we want to go back to pre-Covid life at the end of September ».
Are you worried about the Delta variant?
«In Italy the numbers are very low. We have to keep it under control and then, compared to the United Kingdom, we have a clear advantage: here it has just started to circulate and we can intervene if necessary. But I really hope not, but few words: let’s get vaccinated ».