Budget: Italy sets aside €400m fund for vaccines and anti-Covid drugs

Budget: Italy sets aside €400m fund for vaccines and anti-Covid drugs
Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
Italy's new draft budget proposal includes 400 million euros for the purchase of "anti SARS-COV-2 vaccines and drugs for the treatment of patients with COVID-19".

The special fund for the Ministry of Health is included in a draft of Italy's next budget, about to be scrutnised by parliament.

It is not known which drugs or vaccines the health ministry is planning to purchase.

Hopes for a vaccine were raised again on Monday as US firm Moderna announced a vaccine in development has proven 94 percent effective in trials.

READ ALSO: Covid-19 vaccine found to be '90 percent effective', says Germany-based biotech firm

The news came hot on the heels of an announcement last week that a 90% effective vaccine may soon be available from Germany-based BioNTech and its American partner Pfizer as it published the results of their first large-scale trials, which are still ongoing.

If the BioNTech vaccine is approved, Italy would receive up to 13.5% of the 200 million doses reserved by the European Union, equal to around 27.2 million doses – enough for 14 million people (double inoculation is needed).
 
 
Italy’s health minister said the news of a potential coronavirus vaccine was “encouraging”, but urged people to remain cautious and not to abandon safety measures.
 
Several other potential vaccines are in development around the world, including one being trialled in Italy, developed by Oxford University and the AstraZeneca pharmaceutical group.
 
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Italy's 2021 fiscal plan is described by local media as a “maxi” budget due to its size – it contains 248 measures and is worth more than 38 billion euros.

This figure may yet increase, as the plan is likely to be revised in the coming weeks after already facing long delays.

Other measures in the draft, which have not yet been confirmed, include a four-bilion-euro fund to support the businesses hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent shutdowns. These are defined as having a “decrease in turnover of at least 30%”. 

It's not clear from the draft how exactly the further funding would be distributed.

The budget plan also includes tax breaks aimed getting more women back into work, and at encouraging more electronic payments.

A planned 25 percent tax increase on e-cigarettes has reportedly been scrapped.


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