Italy’s vaccine supply short by nearly 30 percent, data shows

Italy's vaccine supply short by nearly 30 percent, data shows
Empty doses of the Covid-19 vaccine at a hospital in Turin. Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP
Italy's coronavirus vaccine plan is missing its targets as the country has received almost 30 percent fewer doses than expected, government data showed on Thursday.

The government had said in a document published on March 13th that it counted on procuring 15.7 million vaccine doses by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

But only 11.25 million vaccine doses arrived, a gap of around 28 percent, a government website indicated.

READ ALSO: Europe’s slow vaccine rollout is ‘prolonging the pandemic’ as infections surge

Most of the shortfall was due to AstraZeneca, which supplied Italy with 2.75 million doses rather than the expected 5.35 million. Moderna supplies were also behind schedule.

The Italian government set a goal of administering at least 300,000 doses per day before the end of March, but this has proved equally unattainable.

On March 31st, around 251,000 people got a jab, but the seven-day average for daily inoculations is 233,749, according to business daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

Italy is one of the countries worst-hit by the coronavirus, with the official death toll approaching 110,000. Beating the pandemic, and reversing the recession it has triggered, is priority number one for Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who took office in February. 

But several regional politicians warned that they are close to halting inoculations due to severe supply shortages.

Alessio D’Amato, health commissioner for Lazio, the region including Rome, said he was missing 122,000 AstraZeneca doses. “If [they] do not arrive in the next 24 hours, we will unfortunately be forced to suspend vaccinations,” D’Amato said on Thursday.

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Health Minister Roberto Speranza and the government’s coronavirus commissioner, General Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, insisted there was no such risk. Figliuolo said 500,000 Moderna doses were being distributed nationwide on Thursday, and 1.3 million AstraZeneca jabs were expected to arrive by Friday.

Deliveries of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires just one shot for full effectiveness, are due to begin in mid-April.

Italy has so far fully vaccinated just under 3.2 million people, little more than 5 percent of the total population of 60 million. Around 11 percent of the population has had at least one dose.


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