As of Tuesday, 33% of the Italian population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
“It’s a very significant figure,” Health Minister Roberto Speranza said, according to news agency Ansa.
Speranza added that “the real weapon we have against the rise of the variants is the vaccination campaign.”
Speaking earlier on Monday, the minister also said Italy’s goal was to “vaccinate all Italians who want it with the first dose by the end of the summer”.
He added that masks, which no longer need to be worn outdoors except for in crowded areas, remained “essential”.
Italian health experts however have warned that the government can’t rely only on vaccines and mask-wearing to keep the spread of the Delta variant in check.
Italy’s Higher Health Institute (ISS) said in a report on Friday the Delta variant, which originated in India and has driven a rise in infections in the UK, now accounted for more than 16% of new cases in Italy. Other studies put the figure at 32% last week.
The report warned that this variant was more contagious and had the potential to partially elude vaccines.
The ISS, independent health watchdog GIMBE, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) last week called for more testing, sequencing and tracing in Italy.
The reports also called for renewed efforts to increase vaccination coverage, after the number of vaccines administered last week fell slightly (-4.5%) for the first time, according to data analysis from GIMBE.