Italy won’t offer a fourth Covid vaccine dose, says medicines agency

Italian health authorities won't roll out fourth doses of a Covid vaccine but may offer an annual top-up shot, the director of national medicines regulator AIFA said on Thursday.

Italy won't offer a fourth Covid vaccine dose, says medicines agency
Fourth doses of Covid-19 vaccines are not planned in Italy according to the head of the national medicines agency. Photo: Photo: ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP

“There won’t be a fourth dose, but a follow-up, hopefully annually,” AIFA director Nicola Magrini said in an interview broadcast on the RaiTre television channel.

“We will have to get used to this,” he added.

Magrini added that Novavax will be available in Italy from the end of January.

“It’s a protein vaccine, like the flu vaccines,” he said. “It will be a small supplement compared to the other mRna vaccines. Some seem to prefer it, so Novavax will soon be an option.”

READ ALSO: Reader question: Do I need to update my Italian green pass after a booster shot?

The statement came after the Italian government last week confirmed that its health passes would remain valid indefinitely after one booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Few countries have reached the stage of distributing second booster shots, and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has expressed doubt about the need to do so.

“While use of additional boosters can be part of contingency plans, repeated vaccinations within short intervals would not represent a sustainable long-term strategy,” EMA Head of Vaccines Strategy Marco Cavaleri told a press conference in January.

He said a policy of giving boosters every four months hypothetically poses the risk of overloading people’s immune systems and leading to fatigue in the population, Reuters reported.

On Wednesday, Denmark became the first European country to confirm that it will offer a fourth dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to people considered to be at risk of developing serious forms of the illness.

Chile and Israel are the only other nations to announce fourth shots so far. Both countries have already begun to administer fourth doses to at-risk and vulnerable groups.

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Covid vaccines halved Italy’s death toll, study finds

Italy's Covid-19 vaccination campaign prevented some 150,000 deaths, slashing the country's death toll by almost half, the national health institute (ISS) said on Wednesday.

Covid vaccines halved Italy's death toll, study finds

Vaccines also prevented eight million cases of Covid-19, over 500,000 hospitalisations, and more than 55,000 admissions to intensive care, the ISS said in a press release announcing the publication of its report.

The report covers the period between December 27th, 2020, when the vaccination campaign began, and January 31st of this year, using a methodology initially developed for flu vaccines.

It said 72 percent of deaths avoided from the disease were among over-80s, 19 percent in the 70-79 range, 7 percent in the 60-69 range and 3 percent under 60.

Italy has been one of the countries worst affected by the  pandemic, with more than 160,000 deaths reported since February 2020, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain.

To date, almost 90 percent of the population over the age of 12 has been fully vaccinated, as well as just over 34 percent of children aged five to eleven.

Italy on Tuesday began offering a fourth dose of an anti-Covid 19 vaccine to those deemed at highest risk from the disease, including over-80s and care home residents.