A well-known Italian scientist has said Beijing’s attempts to twist his words to suggest the coronavirus originated in Italy is a textbook example of “propaganda”.
Giuseppe Remuzzi, director of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan, has refuted any suggestion that the virus started in his homeland after comments he made circulated widely in Chinese state media.
In an interview he gave last week, Professor Remuzzi said that local doctors had reported seeing strange symptoms in older people as far back as November.
An Italian doctor is now key to China’s efforts to sow confusion over the coronavirus’s origins
China’s attempts to dissociate itself from the origins of the coronavirus outbreak got an apparent boost thanks to an interview given by an Italian doctor to American media.
The article in question, published by NPR on March 19, examined the impact of the current pandemic on Italy’s health care system. What caught the attention of people in China, however, was the final line in the report, where an Italian medical expert called Giuseppe Remuzzi said, citing doctors: “They remember having seen very strange pneumonia, very severe, particularly in old people in December and even November… This means that the virus was circulating, at least in [the northern region of] Lombardy and before we were aware of this outbreak occurring in China.”
Italian professor repeats warning coronavirus may have spread outside China last year
- Giuseppe Remuzzi’s comments were seized on by Chinese state media amid the acrimonious row with the US, but he says the key question is how far Covid-19 had spread before it was identified
- Academic says ‘strange pneumonias’ in Italy last November suggest it may have reached Europe before anyone knew what the disease was
He said a major question was how long the disease, which has so far infected more than 378,000 and killed over 16,500 people worldwide, had been spreading in China before health authorities realised its severity.
Taking into account the long incubation period, Remuzzi said he would not be surprised if some asymptomatic carriers had travelled around China or even abroad before December.
The professor also said that while it was possible it originated outside Wuhan, there had so far been no proof to support the theory.
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Categories: Europe / Western countries