‘Italy is also close to the end’

John Ioannides at the Bologna Festival of Medical Sciences, in the live broadcast with an intervention entitled “Lessons in Epidemiology at the End of the Epidemic”. The Stanford University epidemiologist, one of the world’s most important scientists, acknowledges: “Projections about Covid are often wrong, but some countries are closer to the end than others, such as Italy and the most vaccinated countries. And soon we will have more protection from Covid than the flu.”

The errors are also caused by “often insufficient data, lack of transparency combined with experience and knowledge, but we are getting better,” said Ioannidis, convinced that we are on the verge of endemicity: “Italy has excellent vaccination rates, especially with regard to that over 65 groups, It is the group most at risk of severe consequences.”

Risk grading is one of the concepts that Ionides focuses on the most: “There are age groups that display a risk difference 10,000 times greater than younger groups, such as children. The disease fatality rate is very variable: if the average is 0.15 percent, we rise to 0.4% in Europe, where the population is on average older, to fall to less than 0.1% in Africa.So, in order to secure the most vulnerable, from the elderly to the sick, it is an essential duty, if we want Work on the horizon of precision medicine.

On vaccines: “It was a very important achievement, even on a psychological level because it finally showed us a possible end to the epidemic. Today we are 40% of the world’s population immunized, I doubt we will be able to reach 70% in the short term, but vaccines can lead us To an endemic state in which we risk less infection with SARS-CoV-2 than influenza, provided, of course, that no new mutations occur.”

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Difficulties in keeping the epidemic under control are related to the role of asymptomatic “invisible” virus carriers. “Even if – says Ioannidis – strict measures, such as lockdowns of entire countries, have not led to significant improvements, while, for example, stopping major events has proven effective.” Iannidis also cites two randomized trials he conducted on the usefulness of masks: “Their use leads to a 10% reduction in risk, which is not very important.” In addition, Ioannidis highlights the potential secondary consequences of Covid: “There is no doubt that the epidemic has been a crash test for the health of health systems, especially those that have experienced cuts in recent years, like yours in Italy. It also indirectly led to an increase in Deaths under the age of 75 attributable to deficiencies in the health system.” But surely, Covid gave a lesson: “If we are able to act with the same iron fist even with regard to other avoidable deaths, we can, for example, save many more deaths related to smoking. There is a lot to do in terms of education, health and prevention.” On closing schools: “It was a wrong choice, given the devastating impact on the well-being of children and their families.”

John Ioannidis: Professor of Medicine, Health Research, Policy, and Biomedical Data Science at Stanford University School of Medicine and Professor of Statistics in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University

John Pa Ionidis is Professor of Medicine, Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health, Professor of Biometric Data Science in the School of Medicine, Professor of Statistics in the College of Humanities and Sciences, and Co-Director of the Stanford Meta Research Innovation Center (METRICS) of Stanford University. He is also the Director of the Center for Meta-Research Innovation in Berlin (METRIC B).

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