Baffled medics said Ferrera Erbognone, the village of a thousand inhabitants in the province of Pavia, appears immune to the COVID-19 virus. They are now hoping to carrying out a series of tests on residents to try to find out why.
We chose Ferrera because it is a community in which no cases of coronavirus infection have occurred
Mayor Giovanni Fassina has told all families that until April 2, they can book for blood tests in a laboratory in the nearby town of Sannazzaro de ‘Burgundi.
The tests will be voluntary and citizens who are unable to make th journey to Sannazzaro de ‘Burgundi will have the opportunity to take a blood test at home.
Mr Fassini said: “We have had more than 150 bookings and many from entire families which would increase the number of examinations.
“I believe our zero cases is not due to genetics. We are like everyone else.
“It is only a contingent situation because apparently the population has respected the precautions of the ordinances.
“But Ferrera could be a good laboratory but this initiative cannot assume any diagnostic or prognostic significance, in order to avoid generating false myths and unfounded expectations in the population.
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“The goal for us is to develop a method to know if the antibody is sufficient to tell if a population is immune.
“I am convinced that many people have come into contact with the virus and have developed infection in an asymptomatic form.
“We could establish the percentage of the population that is immune”.
Lombardy is at the epicentre of Italy’s contagion with 6,360 deaths and more than 41,000 confirmed cases but Ferrera Erbognone has so far been spared.
The investigation aims to clarify whether antibodies capable of fighting coronavirus are present in the population of Ferrera Erbognone.
Researchers from Pavia’s Mondino Institute are hoping to trace something in the immune system of the small population which may explain why no one has been affected and potentially provide data which could help stop the pandemic.
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Mondino Institute boss Livio Tronconi said: “We chose Ferrera because it is a community in which no cases of coronavirus infection have occurred.
“Consequently the population study could provide us with results of a certain relevance that will then be shared with virologists of the Policlinico San Matteo and with the scientific committee of the Lombardy Region.”
The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has now reached 10,779.
The number of fatalities, by far the highest of any country in the world, account for more than a third of all deaths from the infectious virus worldwide.
More than 662,700 people have been infected by coronavirus across the world and 30,751 have died.
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)
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