Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza and ministers from Germany, France and the Netherlands met to sign an agreement with UK based bio-pharmaceutical company Astrazeneca for the supply of up to 400 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed at the University of Oxford. Deliveries are expected to start by the end of 2020.
Minister of Health Roberto Speranza wrote on Facebook: “I met the management and researchers of IRBM today, the Italian company that is working in collaboration with the University of Oxford to test the vaccine against Covid-19”.
Italy – U.K. Collaboration
In a statement, Speranza said the project “will involve important Italian entities in the phase of development and production. This is a promising first step for Italy and for Europe. The vaccine is the only definitive solution to Covid-19.”
“Only a safe and effective vaccine can bring us out of the emergency. Therefore Italy’s role in the European initiative signed in recent days is important. We are proud of our scientists and the excellence of Italian research,” added the Minister of Health.
A good part of the production will take place in Italy at the IRBM Science Park facilities in Pomezia and Anagni.
The vaccine development and testing is already at an advanced stage, with trials on humans having started in April in Great Britain.
Minister Speranza explained that the agreement for 400 million doses includes a first batch of 60 million which will be available from the autumn.
Free for all
Minister Speranza announced, “The State will pay (for the vaccine). It will be distributed for free, starting with the groups most at risk,” referring to the elderly and health workers.
Will the Covid-19 vaccine be obligatory?
There is controversy as to whether or not the vaccine will be obligatory.
Expert and member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, immunologist Guido Forni proposes that vaccination should be voluntary. He said “It is not necessary to make it mandatory. The important thing is that most of the population does it. If there is a small quota that will not want to do it, it is not a problem, what matters is to achieve flock immunity.”
Walter Ricciardi, WHO member and advisor to the Minister of Health, Robert Hope, stated, “There will be no need to introduce the requirement for the Coronavirus vaccine because people have experienced what it means to be afraid of a disease.”
On the other hand, some international experts as well as Deputy Minister for Health Pierpaolo Sileri disagree.
Sileri said,“Given the damage the virus has created, I have no doubt, that such a vaccine should be mandatory.”
Although there is disagreement as to making it compulsory, there is universal agreement that with more people vaccinated, the lower the risk of further outbreaks.
As Italy enters into Phase 3, we should be aware that the coronavirus is still with us and take proper safety measures and follow hygiene protocols to stop the spread.
Written by Anthony Ryan, Easy Milano Editorial staff
Featured image: White Session / PX