We remember the dates: the first two patients infected with the coronavirus are two Chinese tourists and were hospitalized in Rome on January 29, 2020; the first Italian hit by Covid-19 is from Codogno (Lodi), February 20. The Bergamo prosecutor’s office is now investigating the 110 “unclassifiable” pneumonia recorded between November 2019 and January 200 in Alzano. Was Covid already causing the sick and dead from before, even before it was detected in Wuhan? Piacenza, December 2019, the newspaper La Libertà di Piacenza headlines: “In 44 in the emergency room for pneumonia, on Christmas day 7 hospitalizations peak”.
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Still no mention of coronaviruses in Europe. Piacenza, a few months later, will become a red zone; bordering Lodi will be among the provinces that will have more cases and more victims of Covid-19. Let’s move to Lombardy, another local newspaper: the Province of Crema. Headline December 23, 2019: “Peak of pneumonia in Cremasco”. Similar reports also come from Milan. In Brescia we even go back to September: “There are already 138 – writes Ansa – accesses to emergency rooms for pneumonia, contracted by a bacterium whose nature is still undergoing the analysis of Ats doctors”. There is an employment consultant who recalls an episode that dates back to earlier, at the beginning of 2019. He explains to Messaggero: «During the first months of 2019 I became interested in the problem that arose in Brescia due to a suspected presence of legionella in a vast territorial area between Brescia and Mantua. The suspicion arose from the anomalous quantity of strange pneumonia that affected the population of those areas and for which an explanation could not be given. It was discovered that Legionella was present, but had not been responsible for pneumonia and therefore the case closed without understanding the cause of the disease that had affected about a thousand people. I wonder if those cases can somehow be traced back to an even earlier circulation of the coronavirus. “
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There is another striking element: the reports of “abnormal pneumonia” all come from areas that were subsequently heavily affected by Covid-19. Obviously, enormous caution is needed and all experts reject this kind of conclusions. Explain the professor Mattia Bassetti, head of Infectious Diseases of the San Martino Hospital of Genoa: «In Italy we always forget that pneumonia, even before Covid-19, is the fifth leading cause of deaths every year. An excess of pneumonia, also due to the flu, is not surprising in the winter months. I want to stick to the facts: in Liguria it was shown, analyzing the blood donations, that Sars-CoV-2 was present in December, but this does not mean that even then it caused pneumonia and even less deaths. To think that there are responsibilities of colleagues in the province of Bergamo who would not have recognized a disease that no one knew is crazy ».
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The position of Professor Andrea Crisanti is similar, professor of clinical microbiology in Padua and consultant to prosecutors from Bergamo who investigate the management of the Coronavirus emergency: the 110 cases of “unclassifiable” pneumonia recorded between November and January at the hospital in Alzano (Bergamo), may not have a relationship with coronavirus. “None of the cases of pneumonia recorded between October and January in Veneto, 3 thousand, has highlighted the presence of Covid”. Even the ATS of Bergamo (the healthcare company) does not believe that those pneumonia were caused, already in December, by the coronavirus: there would be no “statistical evidence” to lead to the suspicion of an “early presence of hospitalizations” for pneumonia from coronavirus in the province of Bergamo in the months of December 2019 and in the two months of January and February 2020. The Bergamo healthcare company compares the data with the history of the years 2017 and 2018: «There is also a clear effect of seasonality in all three the pre-2020 years analyzed and the extrapolation of the same criteria on the specific data of the Alzano Lombardo structure shows a trend consistent with the evaluation “.
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