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Italy, more than 3.5 million over 50s are not vaccinated

BOLOGNA – Coronavirus in Italy: new cases stable for three weeks, but hospitalizations among the unvaccinated continue to rise. Also because in August there was a drop in the vaccination campaign (-66.5%) and still more than 3.5 million over 50s remain uncovered (the over 50s in Italy are 27,353,240 out of a population of 59,258,000). This is what emerges from the data released by the Gimbe Foundation of Bologna as part of the independent monitoring carried out every week.

According to Gimbe, in the week 18-24 August 2021, compared to the previous one, the Foundation first of all recorded an increase in new cases (45,251 vs 43,365) and deaths (345 vs 237). Currently positive cases are also increasing (135,325 vs 129,116), people in home isolation (130,785 vs 125,221), hospitalizations with symptoms (4,036 vs 3,472) and intensive care (504 vs 423).

“The new weekly cases – declares Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Foundation – after the stabilization of last week, show a slight increase visible also in the moving average of daily cases, while remaining underestimated by the insufficient testing activity and the limited tracing activity of contacts”.

In the week 18-24 August, compared to the previous one, there was a percentage increase in new cases in 8 Regions and that of currently positive cases in 13 Regions. In 68 Provinces the incidence is equal to or greater than 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants: in Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Sardinia, Sicily, Tuscany and Umbria all the Provinces reach or exceed this threshold. There are 13 provinces with over 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants: Caltanissetta (318), Ragusa (281), Enna (268), Cagliari (239), Syracuse (234), Trapani (195), Messina (185), Catania (180 ), Reggio Calabria (169), South Sardinia (167), Palermo (163), Prato (163) and Agrigento (156). Deaths increased: 345 in the last 7 days, with an average of 49 per day compared to 34 in the previous week. “Although less clearly – says Renata Gili, Head of Research on Health Services of the Foundation – the number of beds occupied in the hospital continues to rise: compared to the previous week + 16.2% in the medical area and +19.1% in intensive care».

In absolute terms, the number of beds occupied by Covid patients in the medical area went from 1,088 on July 16 to 4,036 on August 24 (+ 271%) and that of intensive care from 151 on July 14 to 504 on 24 August (+ 234%), even if the national figure remains low: 7% in the medical area and 6% in the critical area. However, the regional differences are significant: for the medical area, Sicily (19%) and Calabria (15.2%) are above the threshold of 15%; for the critical area above the 10% threshold Sardinia (11%) and Sicily (11%).

“Slight increase in daily admissions to intensive care – explains Marco Mosti, operational director of the Foundation – with a 7-day moving average of 40 admissions/day compared to 37 in the previous week”.

And then we come to the real sore point: vaccines. As of August 25, 70.5% of the population (41.767.543) received at least one dose of vaccine (+788.108 compared to the previous week) and 61.9% (36.686 .910) has completed the vaccination cycle (+839.012). The number of administrations, down from 4 consecutive weeks, has collapsed in the last week (1,474,992), with a seven-day moving average of 222,993 doses/day.

“During the month of August – comments Cartabellotta – there was a collapse of 66.5% in administrations: the seven-day moving average went from the peak of over 592 thousand on 28 July to just over 198 thousand on 20 August”. In addition to the vaccination hesitation, there are various reasons behind this abrupt halt: lack of reservations during the holidays by users, holidays for health workers, progressive reduction of the second doses to be administered.

The case of the over 50s is striking. 87.1% of this segment of the population received at least the first dose of the vaccine, with a negligible national weekly increase (+ 0.5%). Overall, 4.6 million over 50s have not yet completed the vaccination cycle, and, among these, 3.52 million (12.9%) have not yet received even a dose, with significant regional differences (from 19.6% of the Sicily to 8.2% of Puglia). Given the substantial flattening of vaccination trends in these age groups, the data confirm the vaccination hesitation of the over 50s which, probably, also causes the continuous increase in hospitalizations, given that “hospitalizations, intensive care hospitalizations and deaths – explains Gili – are reduced by 84.4%, 89.5% and 80% respectively in subjects who have completed the complete cycle compared to those who have not received even a dose of the vaccine”.

And Cartabellotta, speaking on the microphones of the broadcast ‘Italy has awakened’ on Radio Cusano Campus,  adds: “We have saved the summer tourist season, we can safely say this, thanks to the vaccination campaign. What is most worrying now is the emergence of new variants and also the potential drop in vaccination coverage – he says – . Another concern is that linked to the 3.5 million over 50s not yet vaccinated. This can translate into a higher number of hospitalizations which can lead to new closures. This is an element that must pass in public communication, the reasoning on the vaccination obligation goes in this direction”.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

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