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COVID-19 VACCINES

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
A nurse is pictured at a Covid-19 vaccination hub in Rome. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

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.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Italy begins offering fourth Covid jabs to most vulnerable

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.

Italy begins offering fourth Covid jabs to most vulnerable

The first administrations of second booster shots, or fourth doses, for the most at-risk groups began on Tuesday in the province of Rieti, Lazio, according to local media reports.

Fourth doses will soon become available across the Lazio region and in other parts of the country, with the northern region of Lombardy, around Milan, rolling out fourth doses from Thursday.

READ ALSO: First batches of Novavax Covid vaccine arrive in Italy

Italian medicines agency AIFA approved the second booster after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) ruled in favour last week.

The jabs are currently authorised in Italy for over-80s, care home residents and over-60s who are classed as vulnerable, and who had their last dose at least 120 days previously.

A fourth shot for those with compromised immune systems has been available since March.

For these categories, a fourth dose can be booked as usual, via pharmacies or family doctors, and via regional booking websites where available. (Find more information in a separate article here.)

It is not yet known if or when Italy may offer fourth doses to other groups.

Health authorities have previously said they are not planning to make a fourth dose mandatory, though an annual “top-up” shot is likely to be offered.

READ ALSO: How to try to get a Covid-19 vaccine without a health card in your region of Italy

Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in February that annual shots of a Covid-19 vaccine for the general population are “probable”, though confirmation will come later in the year.

“We will have to evaluate [fourth doses] for everyone after the summer,” Speranza said at the time. “It is to be considered probable, because the virus won’t shake hands and leave forever, unfortunately,”

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