COVID: Italy aiming for half million jabs a day – Draghi (10)

(ANSA) – ROME, MAR 24 – Premier Mario Draghi said Wednesday
that his government is aiming to administer half a million
COVID-19 vaccine doses a day in the near future.
    “We are working to compensate for the delays of recent months,”
Draghi told the Senate as he reported to parliament before this
week’s EU summit.
    “An acceleration of the vaccination campaign can already be seen
in the figures.
    “In the first three weeks of March the average number of doses
administered was 170,000 a day, more than double the average of
the two previous months.
    “Our aim is to get the pace up to half a million a day.
    “A year after (the start of the pandemic) we must do everything
possible to solve the crisis,” he added.
    “We know that we have four safe, effective vaccines to do this
and in April we will have the Johnson & Johnson.one too.
    “The aim is to vaccinate as many people as possible in the
shortest possible time”.
    The nation’s vaccine rollout has not yet fully taken off,
largely because of a shortage of doses.
    But the vaccination campaign has also been held back by the poor
performance of some regions.
    There have also been differences between regions over which
groups of people were being given priority.
    Draghi said the differences between regions were “difficult to
accept” and that the regional governments must “follow the
priorities of the national plan”.
    “While some regions follow the instructions of the health
ministry, others neglect their elderly in favour of other
groups, probably on the basis of their bargaining power,” he
said..
    “We have to be united in exiting the pandemic like we were in
suffering together in previous months”.
    He said it was important to achieve “strategic vaccine
autonomy”.
    “We have to construct a supply chain that is not vulnerable to
shocks and decisions made abroad,” the premier continued.
    “We have already started to establish partnership agreements
with international companies for production in Italy”.
    He added that it was necessary to “reinforce the credibility of
the EU with regards to the vaccination campaign”.
    Draghi added that his government hopes to start reopening
schools after Easter.
    “It is good to plan openings while we are vaccinating people,”
Draghi said.
    “We are carefully looking at the contagion data, but, if the
epidemiological situation allows it, schools will open first,
including in (high-contagion-risk) red zones.
    “We’ll start by reopening primary and nursery schools”.
    Around eight in 10 pupils in Italy currently doing lessons via
distance learning.
    The government has ordered all schools to switch to distance
learning in red zones.
    It also recently changed the criteria to make it easier for
regions to be classed as red zones.
    This, coupled with the recent surge in infections, mean that
half of the country is current a red zone.
    Furthermore, the government has also given local authorities the
power to close schools in specific areas of high contagion, even
if the region as a whole is not a red zone.
    Draghi told the House later Wednesday that his pragmatism on
vaccines was “positive” and that the prime way forward on the
issue was via the EU.
    He said the EU had been very disappointing on vaccines so far
but now there were positive signs.
    He also said the EU should work to make sure human rights are
respected in member states. (ANSA).
   

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