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23 Lug 2021

Covid-19 vaccine: what is the situation in Italy six months after the European vaccine day.

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It seems a very long time since we started hearing about the vaccination plan, since the scenarios generated by a pandemic situation seemed completely foreign to us; concepts such as "everything will be fine", "we will get out soon", seemed close to our state of mind because we lived the moment as absolutely temporary and emergency.

Today, unfortunately, we internalized what is happening, or maybe we just got used to it: do you remember what it was like when we weren't wearing a mask? Probably our ability to adapt alters the perception of time and, even if we don’t realize it yet, in reality only six months have passed since the first vaccine was given in Italy and just four months since the disclosure of the actual vaccination plan .

In fact, the European Vaccine Day was held on 27th December 2020, while the National Strategic Plan for the prevention of Sars-Cov-2 infections, consisting of two documents (one for the preparation and one for the updating), developed by the Ministry of Health in concert with the Extraordinary Commissioner for Emergency, National Institute of Health, Agenas and Aifa, was adopted with the Decree of  the 12th March 2021 , which was followed by the dissemination, on the 13th March 2021, of the vaccination plan of the extraordinary Commissioner for execution of the national vaccination campaign.

The vaccination campaign provided a method based on the logic priority of giving the vaccine to the high-risk-categories: it  started  with the vaccination of people who, due to physical, personal or working characteristics, are more exposed to the risk of spreading the virus or to contract the infection (and to have serious consequences); After that, they proceeded by descendant age groups (first over 70 yo, then over 60 yo, etc.) until reaching, in June 2021, the final step, which is the possibility, for each person over 12 years old, to be able to have their vaccination done.

Today, 21st July 2021 , the people who have completed the vaccination cycle in Italy are 28,072,581 47.4% of the total population); of these, 1,298,818 2.2% ) with single-dose vaccination and 841,032 1.4% ) with previous infection who received only one dose.

This numbers rise if we also count the people who have received only the first dose of the biphasic vaccines (and so are waiting for their second dose), reaching 34,627,806 who have received at least one dose of the vaccine; the 62,0% of Italians are therefore at least partially protected.

But, considering more specifically only the people eligible to obtain the vaccine and, only people over 12 years old , the percentage of at least partially protected is 68.9% , while the 52.6% is fully vaccinated.

The government's goal is to vaccinate the 80% of the over 12 yo population by the end of September 2021.

(Real-time data can be found here or here )

The data regarding the availability of the various vaccines in Italy show that most of the doses delivered (66,462,630) were given (62,700,387 - 94%) . Of these:

- 45,385,310 are the delivered doses of Pfizer / BioNTech, of which 44,507,300 (98%) given;         

- 11,858,256 are the delivered doses of Vaxzevria ( Astrazeneca ), of which 10,709,681 (90%) given;         

- 6,954,426 are the delivered doses of Moderna, of which 6,184,586 (89%) given;         

- 2,264,638 are the delivered doses of Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), of which 1,298,820 (57%) given .         

As can be seen from these data - and as we all know - the vaccine by Pfizer / BioNtech is the most inoculated in Italy, and it is also the least feared and the most effective one. The percentage of efficacy found is in fact that of 95% of general cases and 100% of severe cases. The effectiveness against the variants, for what has been ascertained so far, is different: it is effective on the so-called English variant, less so on the South African variant B.1.351; the antibody response produced against them is 10.3 times lower than that obtained against the original strain and for this reason the company is evaluating the possibility of producing a specific booster. The efficacy seems to remain at the original level against the P1 (or Brazilian) variant.

For vaccines from other manufacturers, we see that the percentages drop slightly only on the general case series (82.4% Astrazeneca - 94.1% Moderna - between 61 and 72.8% Janssen), while the percentage of 100% of the severe cases remains unchanged.

The degree of effectiveness of the vaccine seems to lower against the so-called "variants of interest" , compared to the original strain of the virus .

A variant is declared of interest by the WHO if it has certain characteristics (concerning, for example, the mutation of its genome or the level of diffusion in the various countries) in order to be more specifically observed in its general evolution.

In particular, there are 11 variants currently under observation, 5 of those are considered to be the most dangerous as they are more widespread. At first they were identified with the place of origin, but they have recently been renamed with the letters of the Greek alphabet:

- Alpha variant (English): identified in October 2020, it initially spread very quickly, but is currently in decline;         

- Beta variant (South African): it seems to spread with an efficiency greater than 50% compared to the original virus and more easily among young people; has not been reported now in Italy for 4 weeks;         

- Gamma variant (Brazilian): is slightly growing, in Italy it can be found in 11 regions, most of all in Umbria;         

- Delta variant (Indian): spread very quickly from India, it has an estimated transmission efficiency of 50/60% more than the English variant. Experts have been keeping a close eye on it  because they believe it can become the dominant virus . In Italy, in the last month, it reached 22.7% of the cases, with the highest concentration of cases in Friuli Venezia Giulia and total absence in some regions;         

- Epsilon variant (Californian): spotted at the beginning of 2021 in California, it is one of the 5 variants considered most dangerous as it seems able to "bypass" the antibodies produced by the vaccine and those produced following the contraction of the infection resulting from the other variants of the virus. However, it is still not widespread in Italy, only 2 cases have been detected.         


The most probable solution, proposed by the pharmaceutical manufacturers of vaccines that are currently in circulation, is t the possibility of having a third dose of the vaccine in 2022.

All this must not discourage ourselves, and must not normalize thoughts such as "we will never get out of this": the goal is not (and it never has been) to eliminate Covid-19, but to drastically reduce deaths and hospitalizations due to the virus, in order to reach the level of coexistence with this virus, exactly as it has been for years with the common flu (for which we can be vaccinated every year).










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Stefano Marcheselli

E' il fondatore di HumanEuropeCapital.

Laureato presso l'Università Bocconi di Milano, specializzato presso la Luiss Guido Carli a Roma, ha finito il percorso accademico presso l'Ecole de Commerce Solvay a Bruxelles.

Attualmente lavora come consulente in una consulting finanziaria a Milano.

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