Covid-19; Worst over in Italy; lockdown to be lifted

The Covid-19 figures—death, infection, recovery rates—from Italy, the epicenter of the pandemic in Europe, are slowing, according to health authorities, but it’s too early to punch the air.

Italy’s Civil Protection Agency said there had been a rise of 525 deaths from Friday— the smallest daily increase since March 19. On Saturday, death figure rose to 681, and the day before that, a rise of 766 deaths. The rate of increase is thus slowing down.

According to John Hopkins University data, Italy has recorded 128,948 cases of the coronavirus to date, and 15,887 deaths.

But other figure crunchers believe the real numbers are bigger than these – as high as 5 million or 10 million infected people, according to a pollster which surveyed those asymptomatic and untested.  Carlo La Vecchia, a professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology at the Statale di Milano University cited the survey.

The number of deaths could have also been underestimated by ¾. That means no fewer than 60,000 Italians could have died.

Experts consider the figures high indeed—but not high enough to stimulate herd immunity—a level where community transmission stops because the people become naturally immune to the virus.

It will take 2/3 of Italian population—40 million— to  achieve this.

But the Italian government is eager to see light at the end of the channel.

“The curve has started its descent and the number of deaths has started to drop,” Italy’s ISS national health institute Director Silvio Brusaferro told reporters.

“If these data are confirmed (in the coming days), we will have to start thinking about Phase 2,” he said, referring to lifting restrictions paced since March 12.

But he cautioned that consistency matters.

“It is a result that we have to achieve day after day.”