ITALY – EUROPE and GERMANY in the current pandemic.

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The current moment is for Italy a chaotic moment: irreducible pro-Europeans now leading the Italian Government, devoted to the EU as a “solidarity institution” in a totally idealized yet unrealistic vision, have become in just 48 hours those who report their weakness and dictate ultimatum.

This is a powerful change in a very short term, almost suddenly, and for this reason It is not possible do not note it.

It is not possible do not consider how this unexpected change of posture by the current Government toward Europe takes place within coordinated and contextual actions, in which are made specific choices:

1.Italian Prime Minister Conte said the EU should make use of a 500 billion euro ($539 billion) fund, created at the height of the last decade’s sovereign debt crisis to bail out nations, to finance countries struggling to cope with the pandemic, asking to open ESM (European Stability Mechanism) credit lines to all member states to help them fight the consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic, under the condition of full accountability by each member state on the way resources are spent;

2,at the same time, however, the Italian Government seems do not take economically adequate decisions in favor of those who in Italy, like self-employed workers and entrepreneurs, economically folded because of the lock down, are left without financial support, just when only two months ago they were the productive and pulsating heart of Italy,

3.the Italian Government, seems psychologically exacerbate the current weakness of this part of the population ‘assuring’ them, in an absolutely centralizing political decision, that the Municipalities will activate through their Social Services and through solidarity associations, not better identified, the possibility of delivering ‘meal vouchers’ and so-called ‘foodstuffs’ to those in needs state; in this way the Government shows to be not only very far from their needs but, by expressing a supposed solidarity purpose, rather than actual support, it also acts in a manner that mortifies the dignity of these sectors of the Italian population, the same time, the Italian Government seems try to shift the focus of attention from its increasingly evident links with China, building a supposed enemy (the EU) in order to collect the consensus of the population, oriented their discomfort over the EU and in this way preparing the ground to celebrate China, or its intermediary Venezuela, or Russia as new saviors of the Country.

It is clear how the clash, now suddenly opened by the Italian Government with Europe, the absolute inadequacy of economic support offered in this crisis moment towards its own population, and the contextual Chinese interference increasingly evident, are indicators able to open a gateway for China, through which China can take some significant advantage. It is likely, according with the indicators already mentioned above, that the current Government and China are already cooperating in order to make effective this result.

In this chaos of changes of posture and vision towards Europe, it needs to shed some light, considering that it is no longer the time to consider certain actions as casual or the results of an  emergency shock. Today’s actions are building our future. Having high vigilance today is crucial. For the present time, and for the future.

Despite the fact that the indicators seems to be convergent toward an interpretation of choices and actions acted by the current Government linked to China’s strategy, in this Chapter I will keep focus on the Europe posture, which is actually playing a dangerous role in the international pandemic crisis and in the destabilization of both Europe as institution and, in particular, of Italy in itself.

There is no doubt that Europe in the current pandemic context has set itself and continues to place itself  towards Italy with a passive-aggressive  posture, through its indifference to Italian need for aid, as well in its initial attempt, then failed, to point out the Italy as the contagious and infective Country. These are significant and evident facts.

Italy’s requests for help towards Europe were vain. As Italy has activated the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism, requesting protective facemasks, the EU Emergency Response Coordination Centre is now working 24/7 and has relayed the request to all Member States to mobilize offers of assistance.

But the efforts are not adequate to the heavy pandemic that hits Italy.

If it certainly could be understandable that all UE member countries need to ensure sufficient supplies related to their own health system before sending aids to other member countries, it is also true that none of the European member Countries is struggling because of very heavy pandemic impact on our country.

The approach that Europe, first of all Germany, are taking towards Italy, and of which China is benefiting enormously, needs to be adequately scrutinized. In fact, there are indicators that raise perplexities and doubts and that must be contextualized in the awareness that every natural and / or intentional epidemic in the human history always embroils also geo-political connotations. The current pandemic is no exception to all of this. And the answers, even in the current pandemic management, do not make exception. The answers put Germany in the foreground, a Country in which, significantly, the numbers of the infection are far lower than Italy, although in the last two days they have more than doubled.

Data at 29 March 2020 

However, to date, what is striking in the analysis of data numbers is that, despite Germany is the Country that on January 24th  found the first European case of patient positive to the Covid-19 and to have then transmitted it, it is also the country where the number of deaths is far lower than in other countries. To date, 29/03/2020, there are 455 deaths in Germany, compared to 10,023 in Italy.

Therefore Germany, according to available information, has a well-structured health system, with over 28,000 places available for intensive care, a far higher number than in most European countries. And unlike other countries, moreover, it did not lock down its cities, just banning public gatherings of more than two people.

Although official sources seem reluctant to comment the current low mortality, the German approach of massive tests, testing also persons with a few/medium symptoms, seems to have a crucial role. According to the German National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, Germany has the ability to test approximately 12,000 Covid-19 per day, and Lothar Wieler, President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the German government’s Central Body of Public Health, said he could test 160,000 people a week. So, it raise questions that Germany seems to be so well equipped in the face of a pandemic, although it should be acknowledged that there is also information that is inconsistent with the actual German ability to cope the pandemic through its current Health system.

The question arises with even more interest if we consider some data that it can be useful to highlight, even in their significant chronological timing.

1.In 1996, the Robert Koch Institute, the German Central Body of Public Health of the German, began to strengthen its epidemiological capacity to respond to emergencies and infectious diseases, developing a strategy developed on several integrated levels.

Integrated strategies RKI

2.In 2012 the German Federal Government, in the context of the ‘Civil Protection Risk Analysis Report for 2012’, commissioned to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), a risk analysis of an hypothetical scenario, in order to evaluate the potential impact of a pandemic originating from a hypothetical pathogen virus called Modi-SARS.

Below are the relevant elements of the scenario and of the risk analysis report published in 2013.

-The contagion of the hypothetical virus Modi-SARS would have originated in Southeast Asia in February, from wild animals and it would be transmitted in the markets from animals to humans.

– In the scenario it is assumed that the real dimension of the infection as well as its real meaning is recognized only a few weeks after the first infection in Asia.

-Before the authorities receive the first official warning from the World Health Organization, some people (10) are assumed to enter in Germany. Two of them would have contact with many other people.

-Although the measures provided by the Infection Control Act and the pandemic plans are implemented quickly and effectively by the authorities and the healthcare system, the scenario predicts that the rapid spread of the virus could not be effectively stopped due to the short interval between two infections.

-The incubation period is typically calculated from 3 to 5 days, but it can vary from 2 to 14 days. Almost all infected people get sick (with the appearance of the first symptoms, infected people become contagious).

– At the peak of the first wave of the disease, after about 300 days, about 6 million people in Germany are affected by Modi-SARS

-The healthcare system faces immense challenges that cannot be overcome (500,000 hospital beds compared to more than 4 million patients with Modi-SARS).

-After the first wave, two more, weaker, follow until a vaccine is available, three years after the first disease appears. — During the period of the first wave (days 1-411) in Germany a total of 29 million people fall ill, during the second wave (days 412-692) a total of 23 million and during the third wave (days 693-1052) a total of 26 million people.

-At least 7.5 million deaths are expected over the entire three-year period following direct infection. Furthermore, the mortality of both those suffering from Modi-SARS and other diseases and those in need of treatment increases, as they are no longer able to receive adequate medical or nursing care due to the overload of the medical and nursing sector.

There are no doubts that some important analogies are striking between this hypothetical Modi-SARS virus, which would seem very similar to the current Sars-CoV in all its properties, analogies that based on the information examined, do not seem to allow to reach, at least at the moment, significant conclusions on the current virus Covid-19 in itself.However, what is most striking are the results inherent in the impact of this hypothetical virus on the general system.

In particular, the risk analysis would have identified the point of greatest vulnerability, or point of potential rupture of the system, the medical treatments and the health system, which would have been so severely affected by the pandemic, to collapse the national health system, with a high number of infected that would overwhelm intensive care.The document highlights how the high number of medical treatments would pose immense problems for both hospitals and medical personnel, with the consequent need to try to cure people at home or in emergency hospitals.

The risk analysis would also take into consideration the possibility of the abnormal number of medical personnel losses due to the increased risk of infection. This would further aggravate the situation in the medical field, with the addition of the impossibility for the industry to fully satisfy the demand for pharmaceutical products, medical devices, protective devices and disinfectants.

The economic impact highlighted by the report would be defined as invaluable in concrete terms, as much as immense, and would also impact on the food industry and food trade. According to the analysis, the production of food would be reduced in its quantity and variety due to the impact of the diseases even among those who are dedicated to agriculture, with consequent  losses also in agricultural production.According to the analysis, a number of deaths around 7.5 million people should be expected in a three-year period, as a direct result of the infection, with a hypothesis of a very high mortality rate, equal to 10%, and consequent further significant critical impact also on the burial of the deceased, given their high number.

The analysis also hypothesized the death of other patients and those who need treatment, regardless of the Modi-SARS infection, due to the overload in the health sector.The spread of the virus would also be slowed down and limited by “anti-epidemic measures”, including quarantine for people who came into contact with infected people and isolation for highly infectious patients.In addition, school closings and delete of important events would aim to prevent the spread of the virus. Without these measures, the risk analysis underlines how the course of the virus would be even more drastic.

The scenario would also highlight how a response of solidarity among the population, and mutual support and consideration, could somehow reduce the impact of the pandemic. However, according to the report, antisocial behaviors including theft, burglary and theft of drugs would not be ruled out.

The report, which quickly disappeared immediately after its publication and is now almost unavailable online, briefly classified the harmful impact of the pandemic on people, on the economy, on the political structure and on the overall psychological effects, at the highest level of ranking, the letter E.

To this it needs to add another indicator, which transversely affects Germany, but which entirely impacted on the whole European Commission, under the Presidency of Barroso in 2013.

As already reported in the previous chapter, in 2013 the European Society for Virology (ESV) asked to President of the European Commission Barroso urgent talks to discuss freedom of research, scientific ethics, the importance of the free dissemination of scientific results, and the sensitive scientific data management.

The origin of the ESV  letter was inspired by the case of the researcher Fouchier, which in Netherlands had tried to publish an article describing his gain-of-function research, which had mutated in the laboratory the H5N1 virus, which causes avian influenza and it does not infrequently affect persons, however causing an extremely high mortality rate when it strikes them. His research prompted a global protest inherent biosecurity and biosafety because it was based on experiments designed to increase the transmissibility or pathogenicity of some highly dangerous organisms: on one hand the supporters of these experiments believed that the results of these research could be important to develop drugs and vaccines, on the other hand those who considered this type of research too risky, because it related to highly dangerous pathogens that could be released, accidentally or intentionally, generating pandemics.

Dutch government then invoked the European export control legislation to force Fouchier to obtain an ‘export permit’ before publishing his work. Netherlands essentially applied the European Union (EU) legislation on export controls, which required, according to Regulation n. 428/2009 which applies to all UE Member States, an export permit for so-called materials and information “dual use” – those that could have legitimate and harmful uses – including those related to dangerous pathogens.

Just considering this specific case, the ESV President showed his opposition and concern that, the preceding above could lead to the risk to force the European researchers which work on one of the dangerous pathogens listed in the Annex to the Regulation, to request and obtain an ‘export permit’ before to publish the results of their research.

It was therefore highlighted how this interpretation of the European Regulation could lead to the need for the European Union authorities to screen hundreds of scientific manuscripts every year, with the highly likely risk of serious delays in scientific publications on pathogens that cause serious natural outbreaks in humans, animals and plants and which, just for their potential pandemic impact,  require at the contrary a rapid international dissemination of scientific data for public health, in order to allow to a wider and more effective researches from a higher number of researchers.

In 2018 the European Commission, intervening on the mentioned Regulation, updated the Annex, inserting  among the items considered as ‘dual use’ “Microorganisms” (1 2) means bacteria, viruses, mycoplasms, rickettsiae, chlamydiae or fungi, whether natural, enhanced or modified, either in the form of “isolated live cultures” or as material including living material which has been deliberately inoculated or contaminated with such cultures.

Therefore since 15 December 2018, date in which the updated list of items considered dual-use entered into force, it was confirmed that the dissemination of the results made by researchers from EU Member States, having as focus microorganisms as listed above, are subject to preventive control and preventive ‘export permit’ by the Authorities, except in the case of researches considered basic and / or containing information already present in the public domain. In this way, the EU confirms the previous orientation already adopted by the Dutch government, despite the feared highly likely risk of serious and dangerous delays in sharing scientific publications on pathogens that cause serious outbreaks.

These indicators lead to consider some conclusions, that could be keys to reading the initial questions about the current low number of deaths in Germany, namely that:

1.since 2002 and until 2013, Germany, and in particular the Robert Kokh Institute have worked proactively on potential pandemic hypotheses and on the methods to deal with this scenario’s hypothesis, which seems to be similar in many aspects to the current one pandemic;

2.the activities carried out on this front, in particular from Germany, took place in a scientific debate particularly vigorous and alarmed, in some way triggered and heated by the activity of some researchers both European and Americans, related to experiments gain of-function with highly dangerous pathogens; is therefore highly likely that Germany, since 2012/13, the period of time in which its Risk analysis activities are based on hypothetical pandemics, was particularly aware of the mentioned gain-of-function researches and of the potential effects in the event of a pandemic;

4.the EU Regulation which confirmed recently that the dissemination of research related to microorganisms including viruses, is to be considered a dual-use item, and therefore requires prior authorization before to be edited, suggests on the one hand that there was at the Union European awareness of their potential danger, but it also need to take in consideration if in this time there are researches, not yet published, because of the mechanism under the EU Regulation which could have been examined by the German authorities in recent months, as well as from other Countries, waiting to obtain permission for publication;

5.the latter element, linked with the fact that Germany had fielded years before a scenario on a hypothetical pandemic of an hypothetical Modi-SARS virus, would suggest an awareness perhaps even greater than other countries, about the danger both of any related research and of the current pandemic.

Following these indicators and considerations, it seems legitimate to ask whether Germany has made available or not to EU Member States the results of the mentioned Risk Analysis report. This Report, taking into account the differences between 2020 reality and 2012 scenario, could be helpful both in the assessment of the current pandemic and in the anti-epidemic measures to be taken, with possible positive global effects for every Countries.

This last consideration increase its value considering the International role of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), which is the German body, which has developed and analyze the hypothetical pandemic scenario, but which is also member of the World Health Organization since 2016, with the tasks of :

-support WHO in its function to prepare for alert and response to outbreaks of international importance by building laboratory capacities.

-provide expertise in event investigation and outbreak response and preparedness including laboratory diagnostics, epidemiology, infection control measures, and clinical management.

-support WHO’s epidemiology and surveillance activities including training for outbreak response, applied research, data analysis and modeling, when requested.

-support the implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005 regarding emerging infections and biological threats.

According to the information available, the Robert Koch Institute’ international tasks would be established by law thanks to a specific Infection Protection Act’s amendment in July 2017. Its international cooperation would include both permanent scientific collaboration with partner state institutions, staff training and support in the area of ​​epidemiological risk assessment and crisis management, as well as the explicit RKI staff  deployment outside Germany.

As result, in order to consider and assess the presence and the magnitude of  potential drivers on instability able to impact on Italy because of the posture of Europe or of some of European Countries, it could be necessary: 1) to investigate and monitor if there is, or not, a full sharing information approach from Germany in relations with the 2012’s pandemic scenario and its Risk Analysis, and if so analyses the timing of these sharing information, 2) to investigate and monitor if there is, or not, a full sharing information approach related to the scientific publications potentially blocked by the forecast referred to in EU Regulation 2018, 3) if there is, or not, a specific and active cooperation and aid from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

In case of potential absence or partial or delayed activation of these cooperation routes, it could make extremely urgent assessing these indicators as triggers point able to deeply destabilize the European institutions as  a whole, but first of all able to deeply destabilize various Countries, first of all Italy.

In fact, it’s crucial considering that  some Countries China, Russia, Venezuela and Iran could take significant advantage strengthening their sphere of influence on Italy.

These are Countries that are already taking advantage of Italy’s request for aid, particularly affected by the current pandemic, leveraging both a compliant internal political class and the European vacuum on the other. These are countries that have consolidated their strategic axis, the implementation of which could probably entail significant and serious consequences for the security and democratic stability of the country.

Knowing their approach is crucial: these are countries that, although different, act strategically with the same predatory methods towards the target Country, using all the available instruments, legal and not legal, acting out of the rules, insinuating themselves into the plots of the economic, financial, political, social, cultural dimensions, operating in the medium and long term, also using, and it is the case of China, such diplomacy linked to the health sector, often partially assuming the debt of the Country target,In exchange of a permanent subjection. These are strategies that have been adopted and are already known, and with always very inauspicious results.

Author: Michela Ravarini        ©Copyright reserved          Date published: 30/03/2020


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