Dr. Fauci Fingers the Fuse That Fed Italy's Flare-Up: Chinese Tourism

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks at the Economic Club of Washington on various topics including the Zika virus, Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)




On Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN why the Wuhan flu hit Italy so hard: the influx of tourists from China.

The immunologist, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and chief medical advisor to Trump’s COVID-19 task force explained it all to host Chris Cuomo.

“It’s when the new infections each day start to level off to be the same and then start going down, then you see the curve go down,” he said.

However, while that happened in both South Korea and China, such hasn’t been true of Italy.

They’re severely hurting, and they’ve got a ways to go:

“Italy is not there yet. Italy got hit really badly.”

And he’s convinced the country’s particularly widespread infection was ignited by tourism:

“Almost certainly…Italy got hit very badly because they had a large number of importations from China by Chinese tourists.”

Due to such a wide stream of carriers, by the time they were aware of the problem, the problem was big:

“And before they even knew what was going on, there was enough baseline people spreading that it essentially got out of hand. And it became difficult for them, as good as they are — and they’re very good — to be able to contain it in a way that is, contact tracing, all that thing. It was more mitigation — how do we deal with what we have? They’re in a very difficult position.”

Makes sense.

It seems to me that Vito Corleone’s homeland might’ve also had two peculiar strikes against them at the outset.


First of all, as stated by Business Insider:

Italy has one of the oldest populations in the world, with a median age of about 46 years old. Nearly 60% of the population is aged 40 and over, about 23% of which is over 65 — heightening the population’s risk with regards to the novel coronavirus currently spreading through Italy.

And secondly, a good portion of the population smokes.

Here’s ABC News:

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that can lead to pneumonia, respiratory failure and, in the worst cases, death. Smoking is known to impair lung function and the immune system, contributing to more severe respiratory illnesses. A recent study suggests that more than 21% of Italians are smokers, compared to less than 14% in the U.S.

As noted by The Daily Caller, Dr. Fauci believes the virus’s spread in the U.S. is hard to predict due to the country’s great expanse and different kinds of areas. Things have certainly shifted over a very short period of time.

He explained to Cuomo:

“If you go now to the United States, we’re a big country and there are different patterns, Chris. Remember weeks ago, the hardest hit part was in Washington State. And that was a cluster of nursing homes and extended care homes. That was a different kind of thing than what you see in New York City, which very likely got seeded because New York City is a hub of influx of travelers — not only originally from China, but also from Europe, which has become the new China in the sense of the number of cases. So New York City is dominating the situation in the United States. About 60% of the infections are in the New York City metropolitan area. And 56% of the new infections are coming from the New York City metropolitan area. … Whereas other areas of the country, although they’re seeing cases, they’re at different levels in that curve of kinetics.”


I guess “yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery.”

Of course, that was true before the virus.

May we be wise, prayerful, and hopeful as we face the unknown.



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