Italy’s Covid infection rate falls for first time in nine weeks

Italy's Covid infection rate falls for first time in nine weeks
Patients wait to receive a Covid-19 vaccine in San Marino. Photo: Andreas SOLARO / AFP
Italy's Covid infection rate has declined for the first time in nine weeks, according to a new study released by the Gimbe Foundation for evidence-based medicine on Thursday.

The foundation’s report shows the seven-day period from September 1st to September 7th saw a 12.5% decrease in the rate of new coronavirus infections in the country, at 39,511 new cases down from 45,134 the week before, after more than two months of rising rates. 

The rate of new admissions to general hospital wards and intensive care wards also dropped to 1.3% and 3.5% respectively, according to the study’s findings, while the total number of positive cases in Italy dropped to 133,787 individuals from 137,925 the week before, and the number of people in self-isolation at home dropped to 128,917 from 133,129.

New weekly Covid cases in Italy from May 5th to September 7th. Source: Gimbe Foundation

However, deaths from Covid increased from 366 to 417 in the same period.

Weekly deaths from Covid from May 5th to September 7th. Source: Gimbe Foundation

In terms of national vaccination rates, the institute’s statistics show that 88.4% of the population aged over 50 has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

4.1 million adults over the age of 50 (equivalent to 15.2% of the population) have not yet completed a full vaccination cycle, while 3.16 million over-50s haven’t received any doses.

The data reveals stark regional differences: Sicily lags furthest behind, with 17.7% of its over-50s yet to receive a single dose; while in Puglia only 7.1% of over-50s remain entirely unvaccinated.

READ ALSO: Why September will be the ‘decisive’ month for Italy’s Covid vaccination campaign

Percentage of over-50s in different Italian regions who have received no Covid vaccine doses as of September 8th. Source: Gimbe Foundation

READ ALSO: Third doses and mandatory jabs: What’s next for Italy’s Covid vaccination campaign?

In his summary of the study’s findings, the Gimbe Foundation’s president Dr. Nino Cartabellotta warned that “there are no epidemiological conditions that would allow us to achieve so-called herd immunity” to protect the unvaccinated, highlighting that vaccines “do not confer total immunity against the virus, and even those who are vaccinated have a chance, however small, of becoming infected and transmitting the virus.”

“Given the high efficacy and safety profile demonstrated by the administration of over 5 and a half billion doses of the vaccine all over the world, it is useless to pursue the fantasy of a percentage of the vaccinated population capable of “turning off” the switch of viral circulation,” he added, concluding that “from a scientific point of view, all the papers are in order to establish mandatory vaccination”.

A hospital patient with Covid-19 receives a traditional Colomba Easter cake. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP

READ ALSO: Italy to begin third dose rollout as Covid vaccination campaign nears its target

His statements come days after Italy’s prime minister Mario Draghi and health minister Roberto Speranza said they would consider imposing a national vaccine mandate if the country did not meet its desired vaccination rates in the coming weeks.

Speranza told Italian news outlets that expanding the country’s legal obligation to become vaccinated “is a possibility that remains at the disposal of our institutions, government, and Parliament.”

Italy passed a law in April obliging anyone working in public or private social health positions, including in pharmacies and doctors’ offices, to get vaccinated against Covid-19 or be suspended without pay, unless their employer can reassign them to a non-public facing position.


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