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Covid_19: Open letter from Italy to the international scientific community | Left

7 min read

As you surely know, Italy is suffering a dramatic spreading of the coronavirus.

In just 3 weeks from the beginning of the outbreak, the virus has reached more than 10.000 infected people.

From our data, about 10% of patients require ICU (Intensive Care Unit) or sub ICU assistance and about 5% of patients die.

We are now in the tragic situation that the most efficient health system of the richest area of the country (Lombardy) is almost at its full capacity and will soon be difficult to assist more people with Covid-19.

This is the reason why an almost complete lockdown of the country has been ordered: to slow down and hopefully stop the contagion as soon as possible.

The virus is spreading at maximum speed, doubling the number of infected people in just 2,4 days[1].

As it emerges without a doubt from the data available, all the European countries are in fact experiencing the same rate of contagion speed and that they are just a few days behind on where it is Italy now [2].

The beginning of the outbreak had the exact same number of infections in China, Italy, and other countries. The difference is that China strongly and quickly locked down Wuhan and all of the Hubei region 8 days before Italy [3].

Just 8 days of delay for the Italy lockdown will result in an enormous increase in the number of total deaths in Italy with respect to China.

This exact same initial dynamic in the number of new cases can also be observed in every country outbreak.

It’s hard for non-specialists to intuitively grasp the way an exponential rate increase can get out of control.

So it’s very difficult to realize the tragic consequences that an exponential growth can have in a contagion like this one.

As a scientist, you surely do understand it. You do also understand that, as long as the rate of increase is exponential, no linear solution to contrast it will work (I.e. increasing x times the number of ICU machines, etc.)

Similarly, just imposing a limitation on people from staying together in large groups is not a sufficient solution.

This is an appeal to you, as a member of the scientific community, to urge your government to act now for actively stopping the virus!

In most EU countries you have enough time to make a lockdown similar to China or South Korea to quickly slow down and stop the contagion with much less effort and cost of what is now needed in Italy.

If Italy had strongly acted just 10 days ago, and that is more or less where you are now, there would have been much fewer deaths and economic tumble.

South Korea and China should be taken as the example to follow to stop this epidemic.

There is no other way.

So please, make your best effort to urge your government to act now! Time is our common enemy as the virus is very fast and really lethal.

Every minute is exceptionally important as it means saving lives. Don’t waste it!

Take care.


[1] https://cattiviscienziati.com/2020/03/02/esponenziale/ (italian version)

https://www.newswise.com/articles/considerations-about-current-evolution-of-sars-ncov-2-epidemic-in-italy (English version)

[2] Time lag of outbreak between EU countries (thanks to Andrea D’Aquino and Ilaria Maccari) https://www.facebook.com/100001749488972/posts/2699658956769061/?d=n

[3] The time lag of the outbreak Italy vs China (thanks to Federico Ricci Tersenghi)

[4] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30522-5/fulltext

Disclaimer: the views expressed in this letter are our own and do not necessarily represent those of our respective institutions. We are signing in a personal, and not official, capacity


Matteo Fago (Publisher, Rome, Italy)

Enrico Bucci (Temple University)

Enzo Marinari (Università di Roma “La Sapienza”, Italy)

Richard D. Gill (Emeritus, Leiden University, The netherlands)

Simone Ammazzalorso (Università degli studi di Torino, Italy)

Giuliano Antoniciello (Università di Padova)

Vincenzo Antonuccio (INAF, Italy)

Andrea D’Aquino

Peter Kruger (Venture Capitalist, CEO eZecute, Italy)

Roberto Aguilar (ETH Zurich, Costa Rica)

Stefano D’Aronco (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)

Lucia Ballerini (University of Edinburgh, UK)

Corinne Bedussa

Dario Bercioux (DIPC, Spain)

Sandro Calmanti (ENEA, Italy)

Giulia Cereda (Leiden University, The Netherlands)

benedetta Cerruti (Swiss Re, Italy)

Salvatore Cielo (Leibniz Supercomputing Centre, Garching b. Munich, Germany)

Cecilia Clementi (FU Berlin, Germany)

Antonella Cocozziello (Italy)

Andrea Cossettini (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)

Filippo Costa (Università di Pisa, Italy)

Martina Danese (Empa, Switzerland)

Leonard Deuschle (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)

Qian Ding (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)

Sara Fanti UWE University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)

Sara Fiore (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)

Vincenzo Fiorentini (Università di Cagliari, Italy)

Jonathan Fiorentino (Helmholtz Zentrum München, Germany)

Marco Frigerio (University of Milan)

Guido Gandus(Empa, Switzerland)

Michele Ginolfi (University of Geneva)

Stefano Giorgi

Giulia Gosta (Università degli studi di Milano, Italy)

Alessandro Guareschi (University of Dundee, UK)

Maria Luisa Guerriero (AstraZeneca R&D, Cambridge, UK)

Brynmor Haskell (Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland)

Emilia La Nave (CNR, Italy)

Shaohua Li (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)

Marco Tullio Liuzza (University of Catanzaro, Catanzaro, Italy)

Ilaria Maccari (KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden)

Onofrio M. Maragò (CNR, Messina, Italy)

Maria Concetta Mastropieri (Liceo Scientifico Galileo Galilei- Perugia- Italy)

Javier Roca Maza (Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy)

Michele Michelotto (INFN, Padova, Italy)

Valeria Montis (MIUR, Italia)

Alessia Nota (University of Bonn, Germany)

Elisabetta Ocello (University of Udine, Italy)

Carlotta Olivero (Cardiff University, UK)

Floria Ottonello Briano (PhD, Italy)

Davide Pagani (DESY, Hamburg, Germany)

Matteo Paganoni (Shell International (former Oxford University))

Giulia Panegrossi (CNR, Italy)

Daniele Passerone (Empa, Switzerland)

Chiara Pavan (University of Melbourne – Frey Institute, Australia)

Laura Pentericci (INAF, Italy)

Claudio Perini (ANSYS, Italy)

Marcello Petita (ENEA, EURAC)

Paola Pietrandrea (Université de Lille, France)

Leonardo Platania (Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC-UPF) , Spain)

Giulia Da Poian (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)

Elena Pulvirenti (University of Bonn, Germany)

Andrea Rapisarda (Università di Catania)

Tommaso Rollo (ThunderNIL, Italy)

A. Marco Saitta (Sorbonne Université, Paris, France)

Renata Sarno (PhD)

Serena Savoca (University of Messina, Italy)

Gaetano Scebba (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)

Nathan Shammah (RIKEN, Wako, Japan)

Riccardo Spezia (Sorbonne Université, Paris, France)

Lorenzo Stievano (Université de Montpellier, France)

Simone Sturniolo (STFC, United Kingdom)

Alessandra Tamaro (Amsterdam University medical center, The Netherlands)

Luca Tortorelli (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)

David Vagni (Itl. Nt. Res. Council, CNR Messina)

Angelo Valli (TU Vienna, Austria)

Giulia Venditti (Department of physics, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy)

Sharon Watson (PharMD)

Xin Wen (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)

Jia Zhang (ETH Zurich, Switzerland)

Giulia Gulino (KU Leuven)

Gian Paolo Imponente (Federico II, Naples)

Alfio Torrisi (Nuclear Physics Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Řež (Czech Republic) )

José Lorenzana (Istituto dei Sistemi Complessi – CNR, Rome, Italy)

Carlo Ungarelli (Istituto di Istruzione Superiore “Marconi-Galletti-Einaudi”, Domodossola)

Angelo Maggi (La Sapienza University)

Giulia Ventagli

Simona Di Mauro (Rome Italy)

Antonio Giovanni Bruno (University of Leicester)

Athanasia Nikolaou

Sara Romanò (University of Turin)

Francesco Taddia

David Barney (CERN)

Mattia Udina (Sapienza University of Rome)

Filippo anzuini (University of Melbourne)

Roberto Fino (TUM)

Dimitris Dimopoulos (National Technological University Athens)

Davide Guerra (Università di Roma “La Sapienza”, Italy)

Roberto Carlin (University of Padova and CERN, Geneva)

Marco Antoniotti (Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca)

Martina Patane

Cinzia Perrino (C.N.R. Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research)

Marika Vargiu

donatella lucchesi

Diego Durante (Università di Roma “La Sapienza”, Italy (where I studied))

Nakia Carlevaro (ENEA, C.R. Frascati)

Adriana Pietrodangelo (Natio al Research Council of Italy – Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research)

Giovanni Limatola (Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca)

Lucie Delemotte (KTH)

Stefania gargano (Bisogna fermare tutto subito)

Filippo Andrei (University of Trento )

Riccardo Falsini

Diana Nayeli Monsberger (SciLifeLabs)

Mark Abraham (KTH)

Linnea Axelsson (Stockholm university, Science for Life Laboratory)

Andrea Locarno (Fondazione Istituto Italiano di tecnologia)

Matteo Vietri Rudan (King’s College London)

Michele Pellegrino (KTH Royal Institute of Technology)

Giuseppe DI MOLFETTA (Aix-Marseille Université )

Giorgio Savona

Stefano Bianchi (Università degli Studi Roma Tre)

Alessandro Sciullo (University of Turin (Italy))

Ewa Monika Wilczynska

Mauro Dadina (Inaf)

Alessandra Fino (CNR, Rome, Italy)

Mia Tosi

Dr. Sergio Pérez Conesa (KTH (Sweden))

Paolo Brunori (University of Florence )

Augusto Maccari

Frane Lunić (University of Zagreb)

Michele Cascella (University of Oslo)

Florian Kreten (University of Bonn, Germany)

Michael Blanga-Gubbay (Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium / UZH Zurich, Switzerland)

Luca Frediani (UiT, The Arctic University of Norway)

Alice Scavarda (Università di Torino)

Roberto Nesci (INAF/IAPS-Roma, Italy)

Saeda Marello (University of Bonn, Germany)

Michele Schiappoli (Allergy Unit & Asthma Center, University Hospital Verona)

Federico Nati (Department of Physics, University of Milano – Bicocca, Italy)

Nadine Rueegg, (ETH, Zuerich, Switzerland)

Update Mar 13th 2020 10.44 AM CET

Paolo Parotto (Bergische Universität Wuppertal)

Ciro Balsamo (Politecnico di Torino)

Thomas Bondo Pedersen (University of Oslo, Norway)

Tommaso Russo (Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic)

Nicola Poccia (Leibniz IFW-Dresden )

Luisa Andreis (Weierstrass Institute, Berlin, Germany)

Mikhail Usvyatsov (ETH Zurich)

Fabio Stefanini

Angelo Raffaele Fazio (Universidad Nacional de Colombia)

Matteo Vannini (NTNU Trondheim)

Edwin Langmann (KTH)

Marcella Brusa (Università di Bologna)

Pietro Marsico (ASL Città di Torino)

Enrico Greco (Aix-Marseille Université – Peking University)

Giuseppe (University of Nottingham )

Enzo Caruso

sara keeley (admin)

Alessandro Battaglia (University of Leicester)

Dario Calvani (Leiden University – Leiden Institute of Chemistry)

Rubin Dasgupta (Leiden University)

Lovkush Agarwal (The University of Leicester)

Liesbeth (Leiden University)

Giuseppe De Nittis (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile)



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