Italy’s first covid-19 patient was registered on 21 February 2020 in a small town near Milan. Shortly afterwards, the country was one of the hardest hit in Europe. The Italian health service was on the verge of collapse and seriously ill corona patients flooded into hospitals.
As the summer came, the pressure of infection decreased and the death rate flattened out. Then came the autumn and again the Italians experienced a violent wave of infection again. A contagion that has the benefit of losing momentum.
It has already been a few months since Italy started setting vaccine doses, but the corona death rates in the country have not been any lower for that reason.
Still many corona deaths
On Wednesday, Italy registered 627 new corona deaths in one day. On Thursday, the number was 487 new deaths in the last 24 hours.
In the last week as a whole, more than 3,000 Italians have lost their lives to coronavirus.
If you compare these figures with neighboring France – which is also in a new wave of infections – the weekly death toll is 1,100 cases lower. this despite the fact that Italy has 7 million fewer inhabitants than France.
Concern among experts
The fact that the roll-out of vaccine doses to the population has not seemed to affect the death toll has made many Italian experts uneasy.
And with good reason. For numbers The Washington Post has gained access to, shows that only 2.2 percent of Italians between the ages of 70 and 79 have been vaccinated so far. In all other adult age groups, a higher proportion are vaccinated.
Now, several are questioning Italy’s decentralized health care system and the varying vaccine priorities of the various regions.
To begin with, the authorities recommended that elderly and medical personnel should be given priority in the vaccine queues.
Despite this, many regions in the country chose to open up for vaccination of all possible groups. The elderly fell with it further back in the queue.
And it has not gone unnoticed. In recent months, national and local media have reported on chefs, models and lawyers who have already been vaccinated.
– It is quite clear that it has not been handled properly in recent months. Otherwise, we would not have had up to 400 deaths a day as we have now, says immunologist Sergio Abrignani to The Washington Post.
Another reason why the elderly have ended up in the back of the vaccine queues is that the AstraZeneca vaccine was initially only recommended for people under 55 years of age. However, when the recommendation was revoked, the strategy was not changed.
Italy still uses AstraZeneca, but this week it was decided that it should only be given to people over 60 years of age.
Norway stopped all use of the vaccine on 11 March, but an assessment is expected during the week.
Has no explanation
Another thing that makes many people raise their eyebrows in Italy is why a group of 250,000 vaccinated under the age of 40 is registered. It is not specified why they received the vaccine and the authorities have no good explanation as to why.
In all other age groups, the occupational group to which the vaccinated belong is registered.
– In some regions, journalists have been vaccinated. In others, lawyers have been vaccinated. Professors at universities have also been vaccinated in several places, despite working from home. I can not see the logic in this, says professor of microbiology and virology, Roberto Burioni to the newspaper.
Researcher Matteo Villa (37) works at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies. He believes Italy will suffer further from the failed vaccine strategy.
– It is clear that the wrong people have been vaccinated. I am a good example of that myself, since I have already been vaccinated, says Villa to the American newspaper.
The researcher says that he received his vaccine dose only a couple of weeks after his 92-year-old grandmother received the vaccine.
Villa estimates that Italy with a better prioritization model could save 8,000 people from dying from the coronavirus.
On Thursday, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi responded to the indictment by changing his strategy.
– Stop vaccinating people under 60 years of age. We must stop vaccinating the younger ones. How can you be at the front of the queue and keep your conscience when you know that those over 75 can die from the virus, the Prime Minister said.