“The hypothesis is that the virus has attenuated, which means it’s become less virulent, and there may be a genetic signal that shows this,” she said, adding that she was sequencing the genome of the virus in recent infections and contrasting it with samples from March.
Stern, who runs a Tel Aviv University virus lab, said that if this proves correct, it could explain why a smaller proportion of COVID-19 patients today end up being hospitalized in serious condition. It would have a major impact on the way governments and doctors plan for the rest of the pandemic, she commented, adding that the analysis will take several more weeks.
As Israel is getting underway with the research, an Italian doctor has been making headlines with claims that the virus is becoming gentler.
Bassetti, the chief of infectious diseases at San Martino General Hospital in Genoa, said: “Even elderly patients, aged 80 or 90, are now sitting up in bed and they are breathing without help. The same patients would have died in two or three days, before.”