Immunologist Silvestri «It is possible to arrive at many infections from Omicron. But mortality seems very low “

The immunologist Guido Silvestri, who has been working on vaccines in the United States for 30 years: this virus seems very good at insinuating itself into the cells of the bronchi, much less at going down into the lungs

– Some scientists, such as the director of the National Institute for Health, Francis Collins, are starting to say that, with its 57 mutations, Omicron is an almost entirely new animal rather than a variant.

“The concept of species in viruses, which evolve rapidly and adapt to the organism that hosts them, is always difficult to define: be careful not to turn a scientific debate into alarmism”, he replies Guido Silvestri
, the Italian scientist who has been working on vaccines in the United States for 30 years as director of the Emory immunology laboratory and of the pathology department of the university’s school of medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.

Well, Omicron is spreading at great speed. According to some, America will have half a million infected a day at the end of January, for Collins perhaps it will be a million. Isn’t there to be alarmed?

«It is possible, given that we are already around 200,000 today, but the thing that matters most is not the infections: it is the danger of this phase of the pandemic. Surely Omicron is transmitted very quickly, but the studies we have seen so far, especially that of Hong Kong, indicate that this virus is very good at infiltrating the cells of the bronchi, much less at going down into the lungs. In short, the infected who are not asymptomatic seem to suffer an attack almost always limited to the upper respiratory tract: therefore bronchitis or tracheitis, but not the much more dangerous pneumonia. We still have little information, but data from South Africa, the first country affected, so far indicate that Omicron mortality is 0.24%, at least ten times less than the 2.5-4% of previous coronavirus waves ” .

However, many vaccinated people begin to be vaccinated, even with the third dose, who are equally affected by Covid.
“It’s true for contagions, not illness. Vaccines are not a total shield that guarantees immunity even from variants, but an essential protection from the disease: they prevent them from manifesting themselves with severe effects. There are those who use these infections to argue that vaccines don’t work. That if they are not harmful they are useless. This is not the case and it is dangerous to give space to these theses. Let’s look at the data: today in Italy there are 960 people in intensive care. A year ago there were 4,000. And then there were neither the Delta variant nor the Omicron which made everything more complex. What’s the only difference since then? The vaccines”.

The last trench for those who get sick is that of monoclonal antibodies. But the results of the experiments were not always comforting. Are they reliable?
«Yes, but they must be taken at the first symptoms. Pfizer’s 5-day therapy appears to yield positive results. And against all variants of the original SARS-coV-2, including Omicron, GlaxoSmithKline’s Sotromivab is proving particularly effective in preclinical testing. Among other things, it is also produced in Italy and already authorized by Aifa, the Italian Medicines Agency ».

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