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Covid, Guerra: “I’m not Al Capone, there was a pandemic plan but it was ignored”

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“This is a story I never wanted to write, not only for the consequences it had in my life, both public and private, but also for what it meant for our country.” This is the incipit of ‘Lies, truths, manipulations’ (Piemme Edizioni), the book written by Ranieri Guerra, former director general of Health Prevention of the Ministry of Health from 2014 to October 2017 and then director general until 30 June 2021 Deputy of the World Health Organization. Guerra, who ended up at the center of journalistic inquiries on the failure to update the pandemic plan for Italy on which the Bergamo Prosecutor’s Office is investigating, tells his truth and counterattacks on how the pandemic was managed by the Ministry of Health. On the slowness of some decisions regarding anti-Covid treatments and the ok of monoclonal antibodies. “I don’t tell all this to portray myself as a hero while simply doing my job – nor to convince my grandchildren, terrified by everything they now hear about grandfather on television, that I’m not Al Capone, as I often tell them to snatch a laughter – writes Guerra – but to clarify the first important aspect of the story reconstructed in these pages. Working for the WHO, from my point of view – he continues – means doing it away from home, where it is needed most and where it is averted starting any possible conflict of interest, not a few blocks away from your home and in your city, lulled by the warmth of an office in a splendid historic building, which you can afford thanks to a tax-free international salary , as in the case of my former colleague and now my bitter accuser Francesco Zambon “. Guerra is also very clear when he addresses his relationship with the Minister of Health Roberto Speranza, “a good person, clean and in good faith. Given this – he continues – I still don’t understand how he managed to tell the pure truth on the national level Covid in an interview with Lucia Annunziata, in the episode of April 18, 2021 of the format ‘Half an hour’ in più, and to review at least in part her position on April 27, in the strange speech given in Parliament on the occasion of her passing of no confidence, then rejected “. According to Guerra “the Panflu plan, there was and provided for a series of actions, which, where relevant to the emergency in progress, had been transferred to the national Covid plan: also because, net of the differences in terms of aggression and transmission of disease, quarantine and protection measures were always the same, as for any respiratory entry virus “. But the plan was never activated. “The decision was, in any case, not to activate the old one, but, I repeat for the umpteenth time, still valid and in force – writes Guerra – and to prepare a new one, keeping it classified, without addressing the issue of updating the Panflu plan itself, left in hibernation by the three ministers who succeeded one another after my departure from Italy “, reconstructs the former deputy director general of the World Health Organization. “The opinion of the ‘technicians’, as Speranza generically defines them, was in reality not unanimous: it can be deduced from the minutes of the task force meeting of 29 January – which I only had access to after its publication in June 2021”. “But on one aspect it is necessary to be clear: those who now claim that Italy faced the Covid emergency without a Panflu plan, are lying. Those who say that the plan was there but was ineffective, must prove it – remarks Guerra – They are arrived in Rome on 11 March 2020 as a special adviser of the WHO and I was unaware of what the Italian government had done until then. When the WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, sent me to Italy to break up the bubble of isolation in which it had been left by other countries, I was a far cry from any ‘diamond tower’, as the WHO headquarters in Geneva is called in Zambon’s book. ” The book, in addition to focusing on the political and scientific story linked to the Covid emergency, also opens windows on the private life of Ranieri Guerra who lost his mother and had his partner affected by Covid. The chapter on anti-Covid cures is very dear to the author. “The hospital saves the lives of the sick and is fundamental, but territorial medicine is the one that also saves hospitals, even more so when it can also intervene clinically, for example with the early indication for therapy with monoclonal antibodies – he warns – I talked about this for a long time both with Minister Speranza and with some colleagues of the ministry and Aifa, stimulated by another donation that in the meantime my friend and colleague Guido Silvestri had managed to mobilize from Emory University, in Georgia (USA) , where he works: there would be ten thousand doses of antibodies to be used in a clinical setting that needed to be prepared urgently “. “Apparently they all agreed, and Spallanzani’s colleagues had already drawn up the protocol, but, in practice, nothing came of it and even this opportunity vanished”, concludes Guerra bitterly.

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