Draghi Says AstraZeneca Verdict Won’t Change Italy Vaccine Plans
(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Mario Draghi pledged to accelerate Italy’s vaccination campaign independently of the outcome of a European review of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine.
The premier, visiting the northern region of Lombardy, the original epicenter of the pandemic in Europe, said that the decision to suspend use of the vaccine taken by several countries was “temporary and precautionary.”
Referring to an assessment due by the European Medicines Agency on the Astra vaccine due later Thursday, Draghi vowed that, “whatever its decision, the vaccination campaign will continue with the same intensity, the same objectives.”
Italy currently plans to triple the pace of inoculation to half million people per day by mid-April, reaching an 80% coverage by end-September. So far, Italy has administered 7 million vaccine doses, with only 3.5% of the population fully vaccinated.
“The increase in the supplies of some vaccines will help to compensate the delay by other pharmaceutical companies,” Draghi said.
Day of Remembrance
The premier earlier laid a wreath at the cemetery in Bergamo, one of the most-hit cities during the pandemic’s first outbreak last spring. Army trucks were used to transport coffins of virus victims when local services including the hospital morgue and the crematorium could no longer cope with the death toll.
Draghi’s trip marks a national day of remembrance for virus victims. He spoke at a site dedicated to people who lost loved ones, and helped to plant a lime tree, the first of 850 trees at the so-called Memory Forest.
The ex-central banker said his government had already taken “incisive decisions concerning the companies which do not respect commitments,” after his administration and the EU halted the export of a vaccines batch to Australia.
Like most of the country, Lombardy which includes the financial capital Milan, has seen reimposed lockdown measures as the pandemic surges while a vaccination campaign stutters.
Italy registered 23,059 new virus cases on Wednesday, compared to 20,396 the previous day. The country has seen more than 3 million cases and more than 100,000 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak last year.
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