ROME (Reuters) – Speeding up Italy’s vaccination campaign will enable the country to overcome the coronavirus crisis, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Monday, adding that his government would do whatever was necessary to protect lives.
“The pandemic is not yet over, but with the acceleration of the vaccine plan, a way out is not far off,” Draghi said in a speech to mark international women’s day, his first such public address since taking office last month.
Italy is poised to become the seventh country in the world to register more than 100,000 COVID-related deaths and health officials have warned that the country faces a third wave of cases as a more contagious variant of the disease gains ground.
“We are all facing a new worsening of the health emergency these days,” Draghi said.
“Our task, and I am referring to all the institutions, is to safeguard the lives of Italians by all means possible and to allow a return to normality as soon as possible. Every life counts,” he added.
Since taking charge of the country at the head of a broad government of national unity, Draghi has looked to speed up vaccinations and has put pressure on pharmaceutical companies to honour their contracts and make up supply shortfalls.
Italy, which has a population of around 60 million, had administered 5.41 doses of vaccines as of early Monday, with 1.65 million people receiving the recommended two shots.
Draghi has suggested that first jabs should take precedence rather than stockpiling supplies for eventual second doses.
(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Angelo Amante)