Home Business News Italy pays high prices for the regional lottery

Italy pays high prices for the regional lottery


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The contagion of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Cisternino


By Crispian Balmer and Angelo Amante

ROME (Reuters) – Agostino Airaudo, 86, died of the coronavirus on March 21. Ninety minutes earlier, he received an SMS informing him that, after weeks of waiting, he had been scheduled for a vaccination. -please.

Ten days later, his 82-year-old wife, Michela, also passed away from the disease.

Unlike many other European countries, Italy did not automatically give priority to its retirement troops when they launched their vaccination campaign in December, even though they were suffering from the pain of the disease.

Failure to provide quick protection has killed thousands and anger over a distributed health system where regions are subject to most of the decisions and central government, experts say. Nurses have struggled to impose a clear strategy.

“Everyone can be saved,” said Giorgio Airaudo, son of Agostino and Michela, and head of the mighty Italian metalsmith association FIOM in the Piedmont region.

“As soon as the vaccine arrived, there was no justification for not giving priority to the frail and the elderly,” he told Reuters by phone.

“But this didn’t happen. The government made a proposal and each region did as they were.”

More than 110,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Italy, the seventh highest number in the world. Their median age is 81 and 86% of them are 70 years or older, data from the ISS National Institutes of Health shows.

Many countries, including the UK and the United States, have vaccinated the elderly first, realizing their vulnerability.

The Italian government also says those over 80 should be given priority, but a random rollout has allowed experts including university lawyers, judges and professors to move to the head of the queue at many place.

According to Reuters data, when mortality fell in much of Europe thanks to the early effects of vaccines, Italy remained high and the average daily number of people was 431 in the past week, the highest on the continent. .

Acknowledging this issue, Prime Minister Mario Draghi – a typical image of calm measured during his eight years as head of the European Central Bank – on Thursday issued an urgent appeal to those Italians wait their turn.

“With what conscience does someone jump rope knowing that they are putting someone over 75 or frail in real danger of death?” Draghi told reporters.

“Stop vaccinating people under 60,” he said, raising his voice.


At the beginning of this year, 20 Italian regions were mostly focused on the protection of medical staff, even those in their 20s from contact with the patient. Most places did not start mass vaccination of people over 80 years of age until mid-February.

At that time, France and Germany gave the first doses to 20% of their people over 80 years old.

Italy has since caught up with the EU average, with data from the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention showing it has given at least one injection to 62% of people over 80 years old. But only 13.4% of people in their 70s received the first dose, the lowest rate in Europe after Bulgaria.

Regional governors said they had followed government guidelines and blamed the delay in the delayed vaccine delivery.

They also said they were blinded in January when the national drug administration advised that the AstraZeneca / Oxford shot should be used only for people under 55.

They planned to hand this footage over to the elderly residents and had to change their strategy. Now the guide has turned again with the recommendation that it should only be used by people over the age of 60 after concerns emerged that it could cause a rare blood clot in young people.

Matteo Villa, an ISPI think-tank researcher, said other EU countries facing similar problems were more agile. His analysis showed that Italy could save 11,900 lives if it focused more on the elderly.

“The central government was out of control and then, amazingly, many regions did not prepare well for deployment,” Villa told Reuters.

He said some regions have competed with each other to see who can get the most shots and find it is easier for health workers to take care of their health than the elderly.

“This is not a race … This is a situation with death, pain and grief,” said union boss Airaudo.

His parents lived in Piedmont, centered in Turin. Both have serious illnesses and have signed up with their doctor for the immunizations. An algorithm applied by the area determines who is vaccinated and when.

Piedmont health officials did not respond to questions about why they were not vaccinated in time.

‘An unbelievable message’

Adding to the confusion, each region uses its own reservation system.

Franco Perco, 81, lives in central Marche, a COVID-19 hotspot. He is still waiting for a vaccination appointment despite numerous phone calls to the helpline and online scheduling efforts.

“I felt very scared. Nothing was clear,” said Perco, the former head of one of Italy’s major national parks. “I get out as little as possible.”

Under the constitution, Italian regions have broad autonomy in healthcare decision-making, even during a pandemic.

In Tuscany, Abruzzo and Sicily, judges and lawyers are given priority. In the southern Molise region, journalists were allowed early vaccinations. Lax supervision in Sicily means that a priest can vaccinate his congregation regardless of age.

“It has created an amazing mess. It is a lesson for us to be more careful,” said Angelo Aliquò, general manager of the health department in Ragusa city, Sicily.

Deputy Health Minister Andrea Costa, who took office in February, told Reuters that the mistake was made in not clearly defining the priority groups.

“There will be time in the future to analyze what happened, but now we need to achieve immunization as soon as possible, which will allow a return to normal life,” he said.

Angered at the sudden death of both his parents, Airaudo hopes to have a calculation.

“I’ve always thought that decentralization is so close to the people. Instead, today we have confusion, differences, injustice and delays,” he said.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments