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Vaccinate with Astrazeneca only the over 60s, the category of the population sheltered from the very rare side effects that have occurred in recent weeks. And still administer the second dose to the over 2 million under 60s who have already received the first vial of the Oxford vaccine. At the end of a long day, the government decided to follow the European path, or at least the other three big countries, Germany, France and Spain. Although in the end the EMA did not recommend the suspension for certain age groups, Berlin, Paris and Madrid wanted to set a bar as a message of maximum precaution, not giving up on the other hand entirely to AstraZeneca, both because it was scientifically considered reliable, both for the sudden slowdown that it would cause to vaccination campaigns.
Mario Draghi has decided to follow the prevailing orientation. A contrary choice, is the reasoning of government sources, would have provoked further distrust of the vaccine. A whirlwind of phone calls between the chancelleries, before Roberto Speranza connected by videoconference with his European Union colleagues to laboriously seek a common position. Then the meeting with the Regions, because there is a schedule of administrations to be rewritten, reservations to be postponed or modified, and you have to do it in a very short time so as not to slow down the schedule of inoculations. The formalization of the decision and all the technical and operational details are being finalized and Speranza assured them that they will arrive during the night. But the director of the Higher Institute of Health, Franco Locatelli, also present in connection, recommended the “preferential use” of vaccines Astrazeneca for citizens “over 60”. Luca Zaia expressed the doubts of many of the connected presidents, noting that yet another change of course causes further distrust, and underlining the doubts that doctors and patients under 60 will now have to deal with the second dose still to be administered. Clarity was also strongly requested on the remodeling and delivery times of doses in light of the new indications for AstraZeneca.
But the government is confident that the balance of vaccinated between now and the end of June will remain in line with forecasts. And the possible fears for the inconvenience that will derive from a revision of the vaccine plan in light of the latest developments on the Oxford serum case – explain first level sources – more than the second are concentrated on the third quarter of the year. While limiting the administration of the drug of the Anglo-Swedish company to the over 60s, the number of vaccinated people from April to May programmed by the executive would not change. The goal is to vaccinate around 30 million Italians. And for the government’s calculations it is within reach. In the second quarter, 50 million doses should arrive in Italy, of which 10 of AstraZeneca sufficient to vaccinate the population over sixty. The problem will arise later, precisely in the third quarter, when according to estimates there should be over 20 million doses of AstraZeneca, which no one knows who to use.
Meanwhile, we continue to deal with the shortage of vials caused by cuts and delays in deliveries of the agreed supplies, which has slowed the progress of the vaccination campaign and will also mark April. Eight million doses announced for this month, still too few to mark the turning point invoked by Commissioner Francesco Paolo Figliuolo. That “change of pace” that will come with 500,000 injections a day. Impossible to get there now, we will talk about it again in May. Despite the intention to move forward without changes, the question of boosters remains open, the second doses to be administered to those who, under the age of 60, with the first dose received the AstraZeneca vaccine. In Germany, for the boosters at 12 weeks – these are the times of the vaccine of the Anglo-Swedish company – it was decided to administer the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The perplexities of many governors at the moment do not seem to scratch the line of the executive: “At the moment – explained Commissioner Francesco Figliuolo – there are no cases of thrombosis after the second dose”.