Sunday, May 15, 2022

Supply Isn’t the Only Thing Stymying Europe’s Vaccine Rollout

On Wednesday, Mr. Draghi said that differing approaches by the regions to vaccinating people over the age of 80 was unacceptable, adding that some “neglect their elderly to favor groups who claim priority based probably on some contractual power.”

In Tuscany, a region usually admired for its health care system, only about 6 percent of people over the age of 80 have been fully vaccinated, prompting a public letter from leading citizens.

“Inefficiency,” they wrote, “produces deaths.”

Matteo Villa, a researcher at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies who has studied the coronavirus pandemic, said that Italy’s strategy of first vaccinating only health care workers had resulted in a bottleneck that made the virus more deadly.

“When the delays came,” he said, “we still had a lot of elderly people to vaccinate.”

Guido Bertolaso, the former head of Italy’s civil protection agency who is now in charge of the vaccine campaign in Lombardy, said the country had failed to act on emergency footing.

He blamed pharmaceutical companies not making good on their promised deliveries for Italy’s problems. “When you plan, you must know where you get the vaccine, at what time, which amount, on a weekly basis,” he said. In any case, he added, “In Italy with planning, we are not very good.”

Avoidable organizational and logistical problems have slowed the rollout and infuriated Italians. In Lombardy, a wealthy northern region at the center of Italy’s outbreak, intensive care wards are still packed with older and dying Italians, making it an emblem of Italy’s missteps.

“Every time the phone rings, I hope it’s them,” said Ester Bucco, 84, from Castiglione Olona, in the Lombardy region, who registered two months ago to get vaccinated but has yet to get an appointment. She walks around the house carrying her home phone and said she had started taking anti-anxiety pills to cope. “I really want to see my grandchildren.”

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