Is coronavirus weakening?

The coronavirus pandemic has kept the world in its grip in 2020, with almost 22m people across the globe having tested positive for Covid-19 since the first reports of it emerged in China.

And fears of a second wave of the virus have been sparked with a resurgence in cases in such countries as Spain and France, with both countries removed from the Government’s safe list, meaning travellers arriving in the UK from both now have to quarantine for 14 days.

There have also been concerns that the virus could have mutated over the months, potentially becoming even more infectious and deadly – although others have suggested that a mutation could lead to Covid actually becoming weaker.

Is coronavirus actually weakening though?

Is coronavirus weakening?

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There have been some suggestions that Covid-19 has weakened over time, potentially becoming less lethal as a result.

The suggestion first reared its head back in June, when a doctor in Italy – which was one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe earlier this year – expressed the opinion that the virus could die out by itself, and so would not need a vaccine.

Prof Matteo Bassetti told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘It was like an aggressive tiger in March and April but now it’s like a wild cat. 

‘Even elderly patients, aged 80 or 90, are now sitting up in bed and they are breathing without help. The same patients would have died in two or three days before.’

Another Italian medic, Dr Alberto Zangrillo, Head of Milan’s San Raffaele Hospital, said in June that the virus had become ‘a lot less lethal and no longer clinically exists’ in Italy.

However these claims have been disputed by other experts.

Columbia University’s Dr Angela Rasmussen said at the time: ‘There is no evidence that the virus is losing potency anywhere.’

Meanwhile, University of Glasgow’s  Dr Oscar MacLean added: ‘Whilst weakening of the virus through mutations is theoretically possible, it is not something we should expect, and any claims of this nature would need to be verified in a more systematic way. 

‘Without significantly stronger evidence, no one should unnecessarily downplay the danger this highly virulent virus poses, and risk the ongoing society-wide response.’

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jenny Harries has also spoken about the possibility of the virus getting weaker, addressing such claims on This Morning last month.

Moving to play down suggestions that Covid-19 could be getting weaker, she said: There is a possibility that that is happening but I don’t think we have enough clear evidence of that at the moment, and I’d just say two things – it is possible that that will happen but we should not be complacent, I think it’s far too early to say that.

‘If people think that they might come into contact with this virus and therefore it’s weaker and they shouldn’t worry, that’s not the right message to have at all. It will be good if in a few years we can look back and say this is not so much of a problem.

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