The University of Padua, in collaboration with the Veneto Region and the Red Cross, conducted a study of how to neutralize the spread of COVID-19. What the researchers found was of great interest: the ability to contain the spread of the virus, at least in this one town.
What was the focus of this study?
The University of Padua with the help of the Veneto Region and the Red Cross established a study, starting on March 6, 2020, to test all 3,300 of the inhabitants of a small town called Vò, in northern Italy—the location of the first death due to the novel coronavirus. The researchers have established this study to natural history of the virus, the transmission dynamics and categories of risk.
Significant trend here in Vò Italy
At the start of the study, on March 6, there were 90 infected residents. Many days later, no one else has been infected with the novel coronavirus.
How did this study group accomplish this containment?
Study researcher and Imperial College London infections expert Andrea Crisanti quoted to the Financial Times that “We were able to contain the outbreak here, because we identified and eliminated the ‘submerged’ infections and isolated them.” Mr. Crisanti declared thus far “That is what makes the difference.” Professor Crisanti, according to the Financial Times coverage, is with the University of Padua on his sabbatical.
The key: Identify the ‘Asymptomatic people”
This research group identified at least six asymptomatic people who were tested in the affirmative for COVID-19. Had they not been identified, they would have undoubtedly infected others. Professor Sergio Romagnani with University of Florence reported in letters to the authorities, “The percentage of infected people, even if asymptomatic, in the population is very high.” The professor continued, saying, “The isolation of asymptomatic is essential to be able to control the spread of the virus and the severity of the disease.”
What the University of Padua test evidenced?
The mass testing here in Vò revealed approximately 3% of the residents were infected with the virus and about 50% of this population revealed no symptoms. After a strict lockdown and quarantine of cases, only 0.25% of residents were actually infected thereafter. These individuals were kept in isolation, and thereafter the town started to go back to normal.
Mass testing has taken hold in Italy
Consequently, in Italy, which has been hit hard with mass testing and quarantine procedure, it would appear that the spread of COVID-19 has been contained.
However, the counter argument that mass testing won’t necessarily work
A professor of infectious diseases at the University of Milan and director of infectious disease at the Luigi Sacco hospital in Milan outright warned that mass testing on the asymptomatic population could be proven to be “useless” as “The contagions are unfortunately constantly evolving,” telling the UK’s Guardian that “A man who tests negative today could contract the disease tomorrow.”
Professor Andrea Crisanti, Imperial College London
Call to Action: Interested in learning more about this northern Italy-based study? Reach out to Professor Crisanti. Although he is on sabbatical, he is still with Imperial College London.