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VACCINE

29-year-old nurse first to get Covid-19 vaccine in Italy

A 29-year-old nurse became the first person in Italy to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Sunday morning, along with a virology professor and a social health worker.

29-year-old nurse first to get Covid-19 vaccine in Italy
Claudia Alivernini said she was proud to be the face of Italy's vaccination campaign. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

“It is with deep pride and a deep sense of responsibility that I got the vaccine today. A small gesture but a fundamental gesture for all of us,” said Claudia Alivernini, as she received the jab at Rome's Lazzaro Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases on Sunday morning.

“Today is the beginning of the end as regards the infection, even if the road will still be long.” 
 
Professor Maria Rosaria Capobianchi, laboratory director of virology at the Spallanzani Institute, received a jab at the same time as Alivernini. 
 
Social health worker Omar Altobelli also received one of the first three injections. 
 
The hospital was the first to isolate the coronavirus in Italy, and has been at the centre of Italy's fight against the coronavirus outbreak since the first positive cases were discovered in Italy in January.
 
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Around 9,750 doses have already arrived in Italy and another 470,000 are expected to arrive from next week, the health ministry said.
 
Italy's national coronavirus commissioner Domenico Arcuri hailed the start of vaccinations as an important symbolic moment for Europe's battle against the pandemic. 
 
“Today is a symbolic day which must give the idea of the beauty of Europe that has bought the vaccines for everybody and distributed them,” he said.
 
EU commission chief Ursula von der Leyen hailed the campaign start as a “touching moment of unity and a European success story”.
 
In a sign of impatience, some EU countries began vaccinating on Saturday, a day before the official start, with a 101-year-old woman in a care home becoming the first person in Germany to be inoculated and Hungary and Slovakia also handing out their first shots
 
Countries are also showing different strategies in their vaccination targeting, with Italy focusing on health workers, France the elderly and in the Czech Republic the prime minister himself was at the front of the queue.
 
Vaccines other than the Pfizer-BioNTech jab are also in the pipeline.
 
In the United States, where over a million people have already been vaccinated, last week began jabs with the vaccine developed by US biotech firm Moderna.
   
Meanwhile the University of Oxford and drug manufacturer AstraZeneca have applied to the UK authorities for permission to roll out their Covid-19 vaccine.
 
AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot said Sunday its vaccine was a “winning formula” and provided “100 percent protection” against severe Covid requiring hospitalisation

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TUSCANY

‘Stressed’ nurse gave four, not six, doses of Pfizer vaccine to Italian woman

A 23-year-old woman who was mistakenly injected with too many shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine was given four, rather than six doses, Italian health authorities said Tuesday.

'Stressed' nurse gave four, not six, doses of Pfizer vaccine to Italian woman
A patient was given four doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in a correction by health authorities. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

The woman received the extra doses from a nurse who failed to dilute the doses, injecting her by accident with three more than intended.   

Health authorities initially said the woman, a clinical psychology intern, received six doses, but corrected their mistake on Tuesday.

They added that the discovery that it was four was “important” because Pfizer has previously run tests on the simultaneous injection of four doses.

Those tests found no “particular consequences” for patients, a local health body in the central Italian region of Tuscany said in a statement Tuesday.

The accidental injection took place on Sunday in a hospital in Massa city in northwestern Tuscany. The mistake was immediately noticed and the patient was kept under observation.

READ ALSO: Covid antibodies last 8 months after infection, Italian study finds

She was discharged after 24 hours and “is feeling fine but is still closely monitored”, the health authority said.

In an interview with Corriere della Sera newspaper, the woman, identified only by her first name Virginia, said that after the incident she had a headache, felt exhausted and shivered.

She said she had no plans to press charges, adding: “These things can happen, we all make mistakes, no harm was meant.”

The health authority blamed the mistake on human error, saying the nurse was stressed, and that it was working to ensure it could not happen again. 

Overdoses of the Pfizer vaccine have previously been reported in the United States, Australia, Germany and Israel.

READ ALSO: Italy opens Covid vaccinations to over-50s from Monday 

While Italy’s national vaccination plan sets priority groups that each region is supposed to stick to, regional health authorities have some freedom to set their own schedule according to their population and the doses available, meaning eligibility varies from one part of the country to another.

After months of setbacks and delays, Italy’s vaccination programme now appears to be speeding up.

Italy recently hit its target of administering half a million jabs in one day, and the seven-day average daily number of vaccinations given in the country is now around 460,000 – up from 433,000 the week before, the latest figures show.

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