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Researchers Look To Northern Italian Town Untouched By Coronavirus

Coronavirus-free territory in Lombardy, Italy
Coronavirus-free territory in Lombardy, Italy

FERRERA ERBOGNONE — Though Italy's total number of COVID-19 cases has topped 100,000, one town near the epicenter in the Lombardy region has registered zero infections. Now researchers hope to see if this town, with a population of 1,200, holds clues to understanding how the virus spreads?

Ferrera Erbognone, the town that has been completely coronavirus-free, is just 70 kilometers from the first cluster in Codogno, and 52 kilometers from Milan, which has registered more than 8,000 deaths . Ferrera Erbognone is now slated to be part of study conducted by the Mondino Institute of Pavia, to test the blood of local residents to see if there is a physiological explanation for the lack of infections.

Is there something in the immune system of this small population?

The study, which is still awaiting the final "OK" from regional officials, will seek to determine if there are antibodies capable of fighting off the coronavirus that are specifically present in the population of Ferrera Erbognone.

Is there something in the immune system of this small population to explain why no one has been affected ? If so, could it be a key to find clues to stopping the pandemic? Mayor Giovanni Fassina doesn't think it's genetics. "We are like everyone else. Our population has been vigilant in respecting the quarantine precautions."

The researchers at Mondino cautioned that they don't expect the study to provide either diagnostic nor prognostic breakthroughs, and cautioned against "generating false myths and unfounded expectations in the population."

For the coming weeks, Worldcrunch will be delivering daily updates on the coronavirus pandemic from the best, most trusted international news sources — regardless of language or geography. To receive the daily Coronavirus global brief in your inbox, sign up here .

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Turkey-Israel Relations? It's Complicated — But The Gaza War Is Different

Turkish President Erdogan has now called on the International Criminal Court to go after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for war crimes, as the clash between the two regional powers has reached a new low.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Elias Kassem

Since the arrival two decades ago of now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s relationship with Israel has been a mix of deep ideological conflict and cover-your-eyes realpolitik .

On the one hand, Erdogan has positioned himself as a kind of global spokesman for the Palestinian cause . His Justice and Development Party has long publicly and financially supported Hamas, which shares similar roots in the 20th-century Muslim Brotherhood movement.

And yet, since 2001 when Erdogan first came to power, trade between Turkey and Israel has multiplied from $1.41 to $8.9 billion in 2022. Moreover, both countries see major potential in transporting newly discovered Israeli natural gas to Europe, via Turkey.

The logic of shared interests clashes with the passions and posturing of high-stakes geopolitics. Diplomatic relations have been cut off, then restored, and since October 7, the countries’ respective ambassadors have been recalled, with accusations flying between Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Still, over the past 48 hours, Turkish-Israeli relations may have hit an all-time low.

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