Coronavirus, the virologist Pregliasco: “I receive threats online, but the risk is still there and it’s my duty to say it”

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“It is the paradox of prevention: admonishing and defending against potential risks is perceived as a hostile act. When they are sick, however, they hang from your lips ». The virologist Fabrizio Pregliasco – professor of Hygiene and preventive medicine at the State University of Milan, health director of the Galeazzi Institute and scientific supervisor of the Pio hotel Trivulzio – explains the reactions to his calls for caution in this phase 2, boundless in insults and death threats.

Professor, what effect does it reveal that even the virologist’s can be a dangerous job?
«Initially I was thrilled. But it was a moment, because it is clear that there are only keyboard lions behind those messages. They are not afraid, but they drop their arms. It is an indirect effect of the pandemic. ”

But are the Italians behaving so badly?
“But no. Especially in the first phase, that of generalized closure, overall the response was very good. Now, unfortunately, we are witnessing a relaxation of attention that could be dangerous. ”

But she was targeted by insults just for saying these things.
“Yes, they gave me a hoodoo, they wrote that they ruin people’s lives on the basis of nothing and they wished me death. It is a paradox related to prevention: because it refers to a potential risk, not visible, not materialized. And I add: fortunately. Because then those who are really ill never complain about the treatment they receive ».

But are we really facing those risks?
“We have a duty to work towards the worst possible scenario. After that, I first realize the mood of those who work with VAT and have been blocked for two months. But my job is prevention and therefore I have a duty to say those things ».

At what point is the epidemic?
«In Lombardy, the virus has involved more than 10 percent of the population and is still in circulation. So if you recreate situations favorable to contagion, we can’t help but worry about it ».

So, in light of what is happening in these days of returning to life, do you think there are the conditions to be worried?
“From what I have observed, many people are showing that they have understood well what are the behaviors to be maintained and avoided to protect themselves from the risk of contagion, while yes, in fact, others seem to have forgotten or have not understood how this damned is transmitted viruses and what the consequences may be. Especially among young people, who could prove to be the new vehicles of contagion ».

Yet in recent months the information has been pounding, obsessive, almost monothematic.
“Yes, we can also safely speak of” infodemic “, but evidently there is some difficulty in conveying truly persuasive messages through the media circuit. After all, we see it in advertising: even to sell a car it is no longer enough to describe its characteristics, it is necessary to create a narrative, an identity. Imagine how complicated it can be to communicate a change in habits and lifestyles ».

But even from science came sometimes contradictory messages.
«It’s true, I’m aware of it. But then we chase nature and organize a response based on the information of that moment ».

And does this also apply to some choices, such as opening nursing homes to Covid patients?
«Yes, considering the information available at that time. After that, let us remember that, unfortunately, the elderly represent 50 percent of the deaths across Europe and more than 80 percent in Canada. “

May 24, 2020 | 07:15

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