Almost all hospitalised Covid-19 patients in Italy are unvaccinated, says health watchdog

Covid-19 patients in Italy's hospitals at the moment are "almost exclusively unvaccinated people, in all age groups", according to the weekly monitoring report on the coronavirus situation in Italy from Gimbe, the country's foundation for evidence-based medicine.

Almost all hospitalised Covid-19 patients in Italy are unvaccinated, says health watchdog
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The report, published on Thursday, said offical data confirmed the effectiveness of vaccines against Covid-19 and that they had so far reduced deaths in Italy by 96.3%, hospitalizations by 93.4% and intensive care admissions by 95.7%.

The overall health situation improved in the week of September 8-14, the report said, as the number of new cases dropped by 14.7%, deaths were down 6.7%, the number of people in quarantine dropped 8.8%, hospital cases fell 3.3% and the number of patients in intensive care was down 1.6%.

READ ALSO: Italy set to make Covid ‘green pass’ mandatory for all employees

“The gradual increase in vaccination coverage and individuals’ adherence to correct behaviour has made it possible to contain the fourth wave, and the new cases and hospitalizations have finally begun to decline”, wrote Gimbe head Nino Cartabellotta in the report.

“However, with autumn upon us and the reopening of schools for 9.4 million people, in addition to the under 12s who have not yet received even one dose of the vaccine, there is a risk of a resumption of the circulation of the virus and an increase in hospitalizations, with consequent limitations in assistance to non-Covid-19 patients “

The report also noted that the number of first vaccine doses administered in Italy continued to slow over the past seven days (by -200,000 compared to the previous week) and warned that millions of people remain completely unvaccinated, with the number particularly high among the over-50s.

Overall 3.9 million aged 50 (14.4%) have not yet completed the vaccination cycle, data showed, with significant regional differences: the highest being 17% in Calabria, compared to a low of 6.7% in neighbouring Puglia. Of these, three million have not received a first dose.

The Italian government is expected on Thursday to pass a decree making the Covid-19 health pass compulsory for all employees in both the public and private sector, as part of a series of moves aimed at increasing vaccination coverage.

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

The government has also confirmed that it is considering making Covid vaccinations obligatory amid the final push to meet immunisation targets this month.

A decision on obligatory jabs is expected by the end of September, and will partly depend on what percentage of the population can be persuaded to get the jab voluntarily by that date.

Italy aims to have 80 percent of the population over 12 years old fully vaccinated by September 30th.

The current figure as of Thursday stands at just under 75 percent, according to the latest government data.

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Italy allows suspended anti-vax doctors to return to work

Italian heathcare staff suspended over their refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 can now return to work, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni confirmed on Monday.

Italy allows suspended anti-vax doctors to return to work

Italy become the first country in Europe to make it obligatory for healthcare workers to be vaccinated, ruling in 2021 that they must have the jab or be transferred to other roles or suspended without pay.

That obligation had been set to expire in December, but was brought forward to Tuesday due to “a shortage of medical and health personnel”, Health Minister Orazio Schillaci said.

READ ALSO: Is Italy’s government planning to scrap all Covid measures?

Italy was the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, and has since registered nearly 180,000 deaths.

Schillaci first announced the plan to scrap the rule on Friday in a statement saying data showed the virus’ impact on hospitals  “is now limited”.

Those who refuse vaccination will be “reintegrated” into the workforce before the rule expires at the end of this year, as part of what the minister called a “gradual return to normality”.

Meloni said the move, which has been criticised by the centre-left as a win for anti-vax campaigners, would mean some 4,000 healthcare workers can return to work.

This includes some 1,579 doctors and dentists refusing vaccination, according to records at the end of October, representing 0.3 percent of all those registered with Italy’s National Federation of the Orders of Physicians, Surgeons and Dentists (Fnomceo) 

Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy party railed against the way Mario Draghi’s government handled the pandemic, when it was the main opposition party, and she promised to use her first cabinet meetings to mark a clear break in policies with her predecessor.