Rome, April 18 | The regional health authorities in Italy’s Lombardy region have said that public confidence in the country’s use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been hindered by the jab’s safety fears.
Giovanni Pavesi, director-general of the Lombardy Region Welfare Department, said on Saturday that reports of health concerns tied to the AstraZeneca vaccine have resulted in people turning it down, reports Xinhua news agency.
“This is a more serious problem than we anticipated,” Pavesi said, adding the hesitation over AstraZeneca is having an impact on the broader rollout in his region and elsewhere.
Both Prime Minister Mario Draghi and President Sergio Mattarella have been administered the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Lombardy, which includes Italy’s financial capital of Milan, is the country’s most populous region.
The region was the hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic in terms of cases and the overall mortality rate.
In April, distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine was halted for four days while officials looked into the concerns that it could cause blood clots in some patients.
At least two deaths in Italy have been linked to blood clots in patients who had recently received the vaccine.
More recently, distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused just as it was about to start, based on similar concerns in the US, where there were six deaths among the more than 6.8 million patients who received the jab there.
There have been no significant reports of serious health concerns with the vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna, the other vaccines approved for use in Italy.
As of Saturday, nearly 14.8 million Italians have received at least one dose of a jab and nearly 4.4 million have been fully vaccinated, the equivalent of 7.3 per cent of the country’s total population.