According to Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, the coronavirus panic is stupid. The Italian virologist Roberto Burioni responded to this tweet, saying that:
“The fool’s epidemic is already a pandemic.”
L’epidemia di babbei è già una pandemia. https://t.co/2XxVaUeGnq
— Roberto Burioni (@RobertoBurioni) March 8, 2020
Doctor, professor of microbiology and virology at the University Vita-Salute San Raffaele in Milan and scientific director Medical Facts, Roberto Burioni tells it like it is against those who downplay a health emergency.
Italy is one of the countries most affected by the Coronavirus emergency. The spread of the virus has caused waves of panic. Supermarkets were stormed, disinfectant products disappeared, unobtainable or with prices skyrocketing. Same with masks and protective equipment.
To understand the seriousness of the situation, it is enough to consider that on Saturday evening, when the draft decree of the Prime Minister circulated with the drastic decision to close Lombardy (one of the most productive regions of Italy and with the highest number of infections), many people poured into the stations to leave Milan and return to the areas of origin: nothing could be more senseless, to the point that some trains and buses were blocked and ambulances were sent to check that there were no infected by Coronavirus among those who were leaving Lombardy.
In this scenario, Roberto Burioni, an esteemed virologist among the most prominent in Italy, has long been making appeals so that people do not underestimate the Coronavirus. His request is precise: to stay at home so as not to contribute to spreading the contagion.
On social media, his battle against those who downplay the Coronavirus is clear, and this explains the dry response to Elon Musk’s tweet.
However, the term “panic” used by Musk may not refer to fear of contagion but to panic in the markets. After all, Musk’s tweet is dated March 6th, one of the most dramatic days for the world’s stock exchanges, which continue to lose ground and record massive losses, with values reminiscent of the well-known periods of economic crisis such as the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008.
What is certain is that the disease is really not to be underestimated, for the economic system and the health system.
To be clear, Italy is suffering considerably: the health system in Lombardy is on the verge of collapse because there is a lack of places in intensive care, necessary in some cases (especially for those who are already sick or debilitated) to combat a disease for which there is currently no vaccine. The repercussions on the economy risk being equally dramatic with productivity in crisis and Italian exports at a standstill (as already happened for China).
In short, there is little to underestimate.