MILAN, 28 Feb (APM) - Scientists have isolated the strain of the Coronavirus behind Italy’s outbreak, which is believed to have originated in the Lombardy town of Codogno, La Repubblica reported on Thursday.
The infectious diseases consultant at Milan’s Sacco hospital, Massimo Galli, led the team which made the breakthrough. "We isolated the virus in four Codogno patients. We have managed to isolate autochthonous viruses, very similar to each other but with developmental differences in each individual patient," he said.
Galli described it as an important milestone which will allow for the virus to be extracted from the biological sample from which it was taken. "It is the first step to be able to multiply it and study it in detail allowing us to obtain, for example, its genetic sequence. Starting from this, fragments can be reproduced in the laboratory which will be useful for developing drugs and vaccines," he said.
According to La Repubblica, Italian scientists are working on a fragment of the genetic sequence of the virus which originated in China with the aim of developing a vaccine. The project is ready to start testing in animals before moving on to human clinical trials.
However, it could be a lengthy process because of Italy's bureaucracy. Luigi Aurisicchio, managing director of the biotechnology company Takis and coordinator of the European consortium EUImmunCoV, was quoted as saying: "We have completed the molecular project of the vaccine and we would be ready to test it on animals by mid-March. But the Italian legislation on animal testing is more restrictive than that of other European countries."
The number of Coronavirus cases in Italy now total 650, Corriere della Sera reports on Friday.
There have been 17 deaths, 45 patients who have recovered, 284 people who have self-isolated in their homes, 248 who have been hospitalised and 56 who are in intensive care, according to the latest official bulletin.
Gilead’s remdesivir seen as 'promising' potential treatment for Coronavirus
Gilead’s remdesivir is seen as a promising potential antiviral therapy against the Coronavirus after 3 patients treated in Rome recovered from the disease, Corriere della Sera wrote on Wednesday.
A couple on holiday from China and an Italian scientist, who was infected in China itself, were treated at Rome’s Spallanzani hospital with remdesivir and the HIV combination lopinavir/ritonavir.
Nicola Petrosillo, director of Spallanzani's clinical and research department on infectious diseases, described remdesivir as “a very promising therapy, with no major side effects.”
Remdesivir is still an experimental therapy which has not been authorised, the paper explained. The Italian health system has a compassionate use agreement with Gilead, which is providing it free of charge, it added.
Pharma fully operational despite outbreak
The pharma industry is fully operational despite the Coronavirus outbreak and there is no danger of drug shortages for now, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Thursday.
The paper contacted the head of the pharma industry association Farmindustria, Massimo Scaccabarozzi, for a comment. He urged people not to hoard drugs as companies have adequate stocks and plants are operating normally.
"I am in the (Janssen) offices in Cologno Monzese now and all departments are in operation with the possibility of (employees) to choose to work from home," he said.
Zambon is also allowing employees the ‘smart working’ option as the crisis continues, Corriere della Sera reported on Monday.
The pharma group is one of several Milan-based companies, including Heineken and Armani, to have told people to work from home where possible.
Prosecutors launch investigation into how Coronavirus outbreak started
Prosecutors have launched an investigation into how the Coronavirus outbreak started, news agency Adnkronos reported on Wednesday.
“An investigation aimed at ascertaining any responsibility in the management of what currently appears to be patient 1 of the largest outbreak of the epidemic that has determined the current situation of country's health emergency,” the prosecutor’s office at Lodi, south of Milan, announced the same day.
It follows suggestions from the prime minister Giuseppe Conte about the failure of a hospital to follow medical protocol and health guidelines.
Opposition leader's call for national unity government rejected
An opposition leader's call for a national unity government has been roundly rejected, Il Fatto Quotidiano reported on Thursday.
The League’s Matteo Salvini has proposed an interim administration to manage the Coronavirus crisis and get the economy moving again. However, he wants prime minister Giuseppe Conte to step down and new parties to replace Movimento 5 Stelle in the governing coalition.
Salvini is said to have a secret agreement with Matteo Renzi, the leader of a smaller governing party Italia Viva who would also like to see the back of Conte, the paper said.
However, the biggest government partner, Partito Democratico, and Conte immediately rejected the proposal saying the government is already managing the crisis and introducing measures for the economy.