Polish scientist part of team to isolate COVID-19 strain

Sacco hospital in Milan has seen researchers isolate coronavirus strain. Andrea Fasani/PAP/EPA

A Polish scientist is part of a group of scientists who have successfully isolated the Italian coronavirus strain.

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.

The discovery, which took only six days, will allow scientists to track every single virus to determine how it circulated, where it came from and even when it arrived in Italy.Andrea Fasani/PAP/EPA

Now that the Italian strain of the virus has been isolated, there is hope for creating a vaccine.

The discovery, which took only six days, will allow scientists to track every single virus to determine how it circulated, where it came from and even when it arrived in Italy.

The next step will be to work on antibodies, vaccination and treatment methods in pharmaceutical laboratories.

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

Professor Galli said: "We've isolated the virus from four Codogno patients. It was in this village in Lodi province that the first case of infection was found in Italy a week ago. It's a 38-year-old man who hasn't been to China, where the epidemic is ongoing.”

Italy is the European country hit hardest by the epidemic, with 2036 recorded cases, 52 deaths and 149 recovered patients.

In an interview with Dzień Dobry TVN Tarkowski,  said: “I was personally involved in the molecular analysis of this virus.

Italy is the European country hit hardest by the epidemic, with 2036 recorded cases, 52 deaths and 149 recovered patients.gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com

“This is just the beginning. It  will enable us to continue to characterise this virus and take further actions which we can’t do in the scientific laboratory, of course, pharmaceutical companies can take them, as they have a much greater capacity to produce, for example, vaccines.”

Professor Tarkowski spent 11 years working for the Department of Immunotoxicology at the Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine in Łódź, specializing in medical and molecular biology.

Now that the Italian strain of the virus has been isolated, there is hope for creating a vaccine.Matteo Bazzi/PAP/EPA

He currently works for Milan University’s School of Infectious and Tropical Diseased.

For years, with the team at Sacco Hospital, he has been researching HIV, though with the outbreak of COVID-19 they decided to use their resources for a much more pressing matter.