Johnson & Johnson vaccine expected to arrive in Italy in mid-April

The first doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against Covid-19 will arrive in Italy within three weeks, according to the pharmaceutical company's delivery schedule.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine expected to arrive in Italy in mid-April
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose. Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP

Johnson & Johnson will begin delivering its single-shot vaccine to Europe on April 19th, the company told AFP on Monday.

Italian officials had told reporters earlier in the day that they expected to see the vaccine in Italy by mid-April.

Covid-19 emergency commissioner Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, who is in charge of Italy’s vaccination logistics and has been tasked with drastically accelerating the campaign, also said that another 3 million doses of other vaccines would arrive in Italy “by the end of the month”.

Countries across the European Union are awaiting their first deliveries of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine after EU drug regulators approved it in early March.

The EU has ordered at least 200 million doses in total. More than 26.5 million of those are reserved for Italy, including 7.3 million that are due to arrive between April and June – though some countries, including Denmark, have already been warned that they will get fewer doses in the first delivery than planned.

Waiting for vaccinations at a hospital in Rome. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

The new vaccine, which would be the fourth in use in Italy after the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca versions and the only one so far requiring just a single dose, could help Italy get closer to its target of administering 500,000 shots a day by May.

Its vaccination roll-out has been hampered by supply delays and logistical problems, including faulty booking systems that failed to notify some people of their appointments. Progress also varies considerably across regions, which have separate public health services and the freedom to set their own timetables.

IN CHARTS: Which regions of Italy are vaccinating people fastest?

The new Italian government has focused on expanding Italy’s vaccination infrastructure, with new mega-centres in Rome, Milan and Genova capable of delivering thousands of shots per day.

And on Monday, Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed a new protocol with Italian pharmacists to allow jabs to take place in pharmacies, in what he called “an important step forward to make [vaccination] faster and more widespread”. 

According to the latest official data, Italy has fully vaccinated nearly 3 million people so far, while roughly another 3.5 million have had their first shot only.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”