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“This is World War II”

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“This is World War II”

I test Covid not chat. They continue the case linked to the beginning of pandemic. «The theme is that everyone thinks that the test it’s good for something.” On 22 February 2020, the day after Patient 1, the president of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità Silvio Brusaferro is skeptical about the use of tampons on the carpet. This is demonstrated by a chat with Francesco Curcio, director of the Udine Laboratory Medicine Department. In the records of the Bergamo investigation into Covid in Val Seriana. At that time, the assessment was not to proceed with the “massive use of tampons”, even though it had been communicated from London that “over 2/3 of the healthy carriers from China remained undetected and they had time to spread the virus.”

Brusaferro, that day, commented on the situation: “As you can imagine we are constantly in the crisis committee”. And Curcio: «I imagined. We are prepared.” Brusaferro: «The point is the systematic adoption of standard precautions, droplets area». The Director of the Udine Department continued: «The problem here now is the overflow: in a couple of hours we already have a hundred test requests. We risk saturating the reception and diagnostic systems”. The President of the ISS replied “the theme is already that everyone thinks that the test is useful for something”. «And then so with these numbers – observed Curcio – now, without a real emergency, I don’t dare to think of the requests they will make when we have the first cases. We will quickly run out of materials».

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At the time it was decided to swab only cases of flu-like syndrome and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Furthermore, the investigators note in their report, Franco Locatelli, president of the Superior Health Council, “highlighted the futility of swabbing asymptomatic people and the Ministry made this indication its own, although on February 25, 2020, the technicians, including the Brusaferro himself, had received an email from London on the problem of asymptomatics. Also on February 25, the President of the ISS had stated in a message that “the controversy over all the” flu-like syndromes “to be buffered is breaking out! we must quickly propose a solution”. According to the report, one of the reasons why the swabs were not carried out even then also finds an explanation in the fact that “neither the Ministry, nor the task force set up at the Cabinet, nor the CTS, nor, least of all, the Regions, had the storage of swabs and reagents was foreseen, but they had limited themselves to a simple reconnaissance of the existing one. Nothing had even been done regarding the expansion of the number of laboratories capable of diagnosing Covid”, so much so that in the first weeks of the epidemic »the swabs processed in the regional laboratories then had to be sent to Rome for confirmation by the ISS laboratory«.

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«One cannot fail to point out the delay of the Ministry of Health in managing the emergency. Only on March 4, 2020, in fact, did he prepare a first estimate of the costs for the purchase of hospital equipment, when by now in Lombardy there were already 1,820 cases, 73 deceased and 209 people in intensive care “. It is one of the considerations contained in the closing investigation by the Bergamo magistrates who for three years have tried to reconstruct the early stages of the pandemic and the institutional responses to the Covid emergency. In the almost 2500 pages of the investigation in which official documents, chats and the testimonies of politicians and experts on the front line are collected, the weaknesses emerge: tracing, swabs and general practitioners, but also what are also visions come to light different ways of dealing with and responding to the inexorably advancing virus. In a chat dated 23 February 2020 Giuseppe Ruocco, former secretary general of the Ministry of Health wrote: «everyone is demoralizing here, and the minister is now in the ballpark» and six days later, again with the same interlocutor, «Everything is going on : opinions of the committee differing from Conte and the minister, second thoughts requested, people called to come here… the world war». The documents reconstruct the emergency, day by day, in a crescendo of requests from representatives of the Regions and doctors who are fighting to have some masks or even just a few tampons that are becoming more and more almost desperate appeals.

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