Italy Set to Miss Vaccination Target, Bets on Supply Boost
(Bloomberg) -- Italy will likely miss its target of half a million daily Covid-19 vaccinations by the end of the month, but is set to sharply accelerate the pace of the campaign thanks to a boost in supplies, the country’s civil defense chief said.
Fabrizio Curcio, head of the agency at the front line of Italy’s vaccination push, told Bloomberg on Wednesday that supply delays and health concerns involving doses of AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine have prompted about 10% of people across the country to cancel bookings or refuse to accept it.
“We will reach half a million daily shots in early May, but what will matter will be keeping to it over time,” Curcio, 54, said in an interview on Wednesday. “This is crucially linked to the availability of vaccines.”
The latest objective of Prime Minister Mario Draghi -- who chose Curcio for the job -- is 500,000 daily shots by the end of this month, itself a delay from a previous target of mid-April. The premier is banking on the vaccination effort to both slow the pace of contagion and restart the economy as he prepares to ease many lockdown restrictions.
Following a sluggish start, the European Union is picking up the pace of its vaccination campaign, partly due to faster production from the alliance of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE.
In the interview, Curcio singled out supply delays and health worries over AstraZeneca. “What happened with AstraZeneca has weighed not only because there have been delays but because it has affected public trust,” he said. “We measure this loss of confidence with cancellations at around 30% to 40% in some areas, about 10% on average across the country.”
Partly thanks to recruiting family doctors, dentists and pharmacists to help administer vaccines, Italy is now set to take advantage of a boost in supplies. “We’re ready to increase the daily inoculation rate,” Curcio said. “When doses arrive we’ll put them to use.”
Italy will start giving shots from a previously blocked batch of 184,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines starting Thursday morning, Curcio said. The doses had been held up pending a review by the European Medicines Agency, which said on Tuesday that the drug’s benefits outweigh its risks.
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