Coronavirus, Broccoli: “Less viruses in swabs. The merit could be the masks “


The virologist of the University of Milan Bicocca hypothesizes that the use of these personal protective equipment could have contributed to reducing the viral load of Sars-CoV-2
As Francesco Broccolo, virologist of the University of Milan Bicocca and director of the Cerba laboratory in Milan, explains, the swabs contain less and less quantities of Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus (follow the LIVE broadcast of Sky TG24). According to the expert, a possible explanation could lie in the most widespread use of the masks. “After the mass use of the masks, it is clear that the infections occur with lower infectious doses than in January and February, when the use of these protections was not widespread,” observes the expert.

“No evidence that the virus has mutated”


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“The severity of the disease depends on the infectious dose: if there is less viral load, the symptoms are lower,” Broccolo continues. “On this issue there are still no official data, although clinical evidence indicates that there are fewer serious cases and fewer urgent cases, fewer hospitalizations in the emergency room and in the intensive care unit. However, it is not possible to rely on these data to say that the virus is not present, nor that it has attenuated or adapted to humans. In fact, there is not a single scientific work that says that the virus has changed and that it has undergone a modification that justifies its attenuation “, underlines the virologist. “It is too simplistic and superficial to say that the virus has changed without having data to prove it.”

The drop in the viral load of Sars-CoV-2


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Broccoli explains that coronavirus is still circulating in the world, with important numbers also in terms of mortality. If Sars-CoV-2 has not changed, the most concrete hypothesis is that it was man’s actions that caused a drop in his viral load. Months after the pandemic began, family doctors have become able to recognize the disease more quickly. In addition, many ICU hospitalizations were also avoided thanks to the administration of heparin in hospitals, which reduces the formation of thrombi. Finally, the massive use of the masks could have reduced the viral load of Sars-CoV-2, i.e. the amount of virus particles present in the secretions and detected with the swabs.

Crisanti: “Less serious cases thanks to the masks”

In addition to Broccolo, Andrea Crisanti, director of Microbiology and Virology of the Hospital of the University of Padua, also claims that the use of masks has helped reduce the number of infections and the viral load of Sars-CoV-2. “A virus is not weak or strong, good or bad but more virulent or less, and has a transmission capacity that can be measured. Based on experimental evidence, it can be seen that when it enters an ecological niche, for example humans, its virulence typically increases and does not decrease, “explains the expert. “Today there are fewer serious cases because the viral load has decreased and this is largely due to the use of masks”.

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