Crisanti, Zaia and the case of rapid swabs in Veneto: what virologists say

Spotlight on the investigation into rapid swabs in Veneto and the clash of these hours between the governor and the microbiologist, now a Pd senator

Spotlight on the investigation into rapid swabs in Veneto and the clash of these hours between the governor of the Veneto Region, Luca Zaiaand Andrew Crisanti, microbiologist and now Pd senator, after the wiretaps, with strong words used by the governor. Crisanti returns to the story today, guest of SkyTg24, On the management of the pandemic “I no longer teamed up” with the Veneto Region because, during the second wave of the Covid pandemic, “wrong decisions were made” in the awareness that they were “wrong, because the The World Health Organization, the directives of the European Community and the package insert of the tests indicated that the antigenic swabs were not suitable for screening but only for diagnosis” says the microbiologist, underlining that the choice was based “on a false scientific evidence, as verified by the Padua Public Prosecutor’s Office”.

“I certainly didn’t like the interception of the governor of Veneto, Luca Zaia, regarding my colleague Crisanti. It’s unpleasant, of course. But I won’t comment on the controversy itself,” he told Adnkronos Salute Massimo Galli, former director of the infectious diseases department of the Sacco hospital in Milan. “I have no elements to intervene, despite the connection and sharing of ideas with Crisanti who has my esteem, but I am not aware of the terms of the question to be able to push me to a judgment”, explains Galli.

“Governor Luca Zaia also knows that the molecular swab is more sensitive and effective than the antigenic. But if during the pandemic there was a need to make as many swabs as possible, given the situation, using rapid tests was not a mistake. On the contrary. Antigenic swabs, in fact, are essential for mass screening. Zaia was right about this “he declares Massimo Andreoni, head of infectious disease at the Tor Vergata Polyclinic in Rome and scientific director of the Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical Diseases (Simit). “Let’s be clear, the story is not a subject that fascinates me in a particular way – Andreoni is keen to clarify -. In general, I stay away from personal controversies and then it’s not me who has to say who is right and who is wrong in this controversy. Instead, I prefer , make technical judgements. And I repeat, Zaia made the right decision in that delicate moment”.

The epidemiologist Pier Luigi Lopalco, Professor of Hygiene at the University of Salento, underlines: “From my experience I can say that the direct relationship between politics and science is difficult due to the very fact that the scientific approach does not allow for compromises while politics is the art of compromise. A good politician, however, should be able to grasp the suggestions of science and put them into practice in the best possible way”. On the question itself, however, adds Lopalco, “I have no elements to judge the specific fact”.

“I have always had great respect for the governor of Veneto Zaia who, in my opinion, has worked very well on the management of the pandemic on all fronts, including the diagnostic one, and I know well the microbiologists who set up the rapid test system – he says Matthew Bassetti, director of infectious diseases of the San Martino hospital in Genoa – I also have great esteem for Crisanti, among the first to face the pandemic and to work in the Municipality of Vo ‘Euganeo. But it seems to me that the question between them is political rather than scientific, and therefore I prefer not to comment on it. I am on the side of science and science, in this matter, it seems to me that there is very little”. “When these things end up in court, I think it is bad for science – the infectious disease specialist remarks – scientific comparison does not should take place in courtrooms”.

For Massimo Ciccozzihead of the Medical Statistics and Molecular Epidemiology Unit of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the Bio-Medico Campus in Rome, “things must be seen at the moment, or rather at the time of the events. So in the midst of the Covid pandemic, a mass screening it was necessary because there were so many people to be tested. Science gives advice and politics must decide”.

Maria Rita Gismondo, director of the Laboratory of clinical microbiology, virology and diagnostics of bioemergencies of the Sacco Hospital in Milan, comments: “I think Zaia was right to use what she had available in the first days of February 2020, i.e. the antigenic swabs, to sweep the population of Vo ‘Euganeo, a small town that recorded the first death from Covid in Italy. In fact, with molecular tests, mass screening cannot be done, in this matter I am with the governor “. “The president of Veneto – says Gismondo again – has taken all possible measures from the beginning to contain the pandemic, I acknowledge that”. Finally, on Crisanti: “He is a virologist lent to politics. He made his choice, I make him best wishes,” he concludes.