Italy hits target of half a million Covid-19 jabs in one day

Italy on Thursday hit its delayed target of giving half a million jabs in one day by the end of April, Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced.

Italy hits target of half a million Covid-19 jabs in one day
A nurse talks with Giovanni, 99, while administering a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine as part of an at-home vaccination campaign in Rome. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

“Yesterday in Italy over 500,000 vaccine doses were administered,” Speranza said in social media posts on Friday.

“I thank the women and men of the national health service and all the institutions for a great team effort.”

Thursday’s vaccination count beat the previous daily record of nearly 350,000 jabs in a day.

The head of Italy’s Department for Civil Protection, Fabrizio Curcio, said last week he did not expect the country to reach the goal of half a million daily shots until early May amid a string of setbacks.

He stressed that, no matter when this figure was reached, “what will matter will be keeping to it over time”.

The target had originally been set for mid-April and was pushed back after Italy’s vaccine rollout was hit repeatedly by supply delays, bureaucratic problems, and cancelled appointments amid a loss of public trust in the AstraZenenca jab.

READ ALSO: ‘It felt like a betrayal’: Foreign residents in Italy report problems getting vaccinated

The jump in vaccination numbers on Thursday followed days of cancelled appointments and vaccine centre closures earlier this week as many regions started to run out of doses.

Despite the new increase, Italy’s seven-day average of daily inoculations is still only around 360,000, the Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper calculated 

New vaccine supplies started to arrive in Italy from Wednesday, and the country’s vaccination rollout will now speed up “significantly” from May, the Italian government’s Covid commissioner Francesco Figliuolo said this week

Figliuolo said on Thursday that he “hoped” Italy would reach the target of having 80% of the adult population vaccinated “by the end of September”. 

Italy has given a total of 19.4 million shots as of Friday afternoon, and has 5.7 million people fully vaccinated, official figures show.

Other European countries are also now picking up pace in their vaccination rollouts, with Germany setting a new European record of one million doses on Thursday.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Italy’s vaccination efforts are overall slightly behind those of other large European countries.

Just under 25 percent of the Italian population has so far received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 28.1 percent in Germany, 26.7 percent in France and 27.6 percent in Spain.

IN CHARTS: Who is Italy vaccinating fastest?

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Italy reports first case of monkeypox

Italy on Thursday reported its first case of monkeypox, joining a number of other European and North American nations in detecting the disease endemic in parts of Africa.

Italy reports first case of monkeypox

Monkeypox was identified in a young adult who had recently returned from the Canary Islands, Rome’s Spallanzani Institute for infectious diseases said.

He is being treated in isolation and is in a reasonable condition, it said in a statement carried by Italian news agencies, adding that two other suspected cases were being investigated.

Alessio D’Amato, health commissioner for the Lazio region that includes Rome, confirmed on social media that it was the country’s first case, adding that the situation was being “constantly monitored”.

Cases of monkeypox have also been detected in Spain and Portugal – where more than 40 possible and verified cases have been reported – as well as Britain, Sweden, the United States and Canada.

The illness has infected thousands of people in parts of Central and Western Africa in recent years, but is rare in Europe and North Africa.

Its symptoms are similar but somewhat milder than smallpox’s: fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, chills, exhaustion, although it also causes the lymph nodes to swell up.

Within one to three days, the patient develops a rash, often beginning on the face then spreading to other parts of the body. Although most monkeypox cases aren’t serious, studies have shown that one in ten people who contract the disease in Africa die from it.

The World Health Organization on Tuesday said it was coordinating with UK and European health officials over the new outbreaks.