Pope’s new doctor says COVID is a ‘normal disease’

Pope’s new doctor says COVID is a ‘normal disease’

Pope Francis’s new personal physician said last November that COVID-19 is “a normal illness.”

Italian media reported last year that Professor Roberto Bernabei, 69, the head of Geriatrics at the Agostino Gemelli University Hospital in Rome, had discussed the virus in a grave but reasoned tone.

“If this disease mows down the elderly, it is a very serious thing, of course,” Bernabei said. “However, it is, how should I put it? A normal disease.”

“Unfortunately, viral illnesses attack the most fragile,” he added.

Bernabei, who graduated with a degree in Medicine and Surgery from the Catholic University of Rome in 1976, also mentioned that almost always it is the elderly who die of COVID-19, as well as those with underlying causes.

“Practically, almost exclusively only the elderly die,” the gerontologist said. “The average age of the deceased since March is over 80 years old and [the deceased] has at least three pathologies.”

“To die of COVID, you need to be over 80 years old and have at least three pathologies.”

According to Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register, Bernabei is the successor to the late Dr. Fabrizio Soccorsi, who was Pope Francis’ doctor since 2015 but died this January at the age of 78. Soccorsi had been admitted to the Gemelli Hospital on December 26 with cancer but, according to Vatican News, died of “pulmonary complications” related to COVID-19.

Bernabei is also a professor of internal medicine at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and a board member of the European Academy for Medicine of Aging (EAMA). He has been married to American actress and convert to Catholicism Sydne Rome for over 30 years. Roberto Bernabei, a devout Catholic, was one of eight children born to Italian television producer Ettore Bernabei.

According to the Vatican Press Office, both Pope Francis, 84, and Pope Emeritus Benedict, 93, received doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in mid-January.