An Italian anti-vaxxer and COVID-denier who sparked outrage after declaring himself a “plague spreader” and boasting about how he walked around sick and maskless in a supermarket has died of COVID-19, according to local media reports.
Maurizio Buratti, also known as Mauro from Mantua, died in a Verona hospital Monday, just a few weeks after being hospitalized. He was 61.
Buratti’s condition took a turn for the worse, perhaps unsurprisingly, after he called in to the Zanzara radio program on Radio 24, where he was a frequent and well-known commenter, and openly told listeners he was seriously ill, with a high fever, but had made a point of strolling through a crowded grocery store maskless.
He railed against pandemic-related restrictions and claimed he was “defending the constitution,” saying he would not get tested for the coronavirus because of a supposed conspiracy in which he said the test swabs themselves cause the virus.
According to BresciaToday, he went to the hospital only at the insistence of fans and Giuseppe Cruciani, the host of Zanzara. He refused to seek treatment in his native Mantua “because the Communists are there.”
Enrico Polati, director of the ICU at Hospital de Borgo Trento, where Buratti was treated, told the news agency ANSA he had arrived in “desperate conditions.”
“We did everything and a little more, but the disease was inexorable,” he said.
Buratti reportedly stuck to his anti-vaxxer views even as his health rapidly deteriorated and he was intubated, with one of his final comments to fans being that he planned to seek asylum abroad to avoid getting vaccinated.
“He is in hospital in Verona, I got to hear him in recent days and you could tell from the voice that he was terribly ill,” Cruciani was quoted as telling listeners recently.
Buratti also appeared to finally acknowledge the existence of COVID-19 in a recorded update aired on Zanzara, according to BresciaToday. In it, he said: “I was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia, it seems to be COVID.”
In the wake of his death, Cruciani paid tribute to him on Instagram, writing: “You were, you are, Mauro from Mantua. We made fun of you, you insulted us, we talked about it all the way to the threshold of a court, but we had fun like never in life. And today I got a blow to the heart.”
Another one of Zanzara’s hosts, David Parenzo, said Buratti’s fate should serve as a wake-up call.
“Rest in peace wherever you are, old conspiracy theorist. I only hope your sad story serves as an example to all those who are still fueling doubts about the efficacy of vaccines,” he said, according to ANSA.