Polish researcher awarded Italy's Knight's Cross for work on coronavirus

Professor Maciej Tarkowski, a doctor and biologist, has been working with researchers under the leadership of Professor Massimo Gallu at Milan's Sacco Hospital since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy. Mourad Balti Touati/PAP/EPA

Polish medical biologist Maciej Tarkowski based in Milan has been distinguished with the Knight's Cross by Italian President Sergio Mattarella for his services in fighting the coronavirus epidemic, Italy's Presidential Palace announced on Wednesday.

Tarkowski was awarded the honour for being part of a team of researchers from the Sacco Hospital and the University of Milan who isolated an Italian coronavirus strain at the end of February.

Shortly after the announcement of the isolation of the Italian coronavirus strain, Tarkowski told PAP that this achievement would allow to understand how it differs from the Chinese pathogen. In his opinion, this was an important step in research on the virus.

Tarkowski said that the virus was isolated from patients from the town of Codogno in the province of Lodi, northern Italy, where on February 20 the first case of infection was confirmed in the country.

"Comparing the sequence of these viruses can help understand whether the virus is changing. This is of great importance, because we know that, for example, the influenza virus mutates so much that a new vaccine is needed every year," said the medical biologist.

According to Tarkowski, vaccines developed in the previous year may not prevent the virus in the following season. He added that determining this is very important in the work on treating coronavirus and preventing infection.

To read more click here.