Italy’s Covid vaccine rollout is a total mess after EU’s AstraZeneca ban leaves them searching for 38MILLION jabs

ITALY’S coronavirus vaccine rollout has been branded a “mess” by senior politicians amid fury over Europe’s ban of the Astrazeneca jab. 

The country has been left looking for 38 million shots of the jab – as a string of EU nations suspended it over unsubstantiated blood clot fears. 

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The ban comes as a blow to Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s ambitious vaccination strategy, which aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the population by September. 

His plan relies on Italy receiving 16 million doses by the end of the month, rising to 52 million in the second quarter of the year and 85 million in the third quarter. 

But of these, 2.9 million were due to come from Astrazeneca in the first two weeks followed by 10 million in the second quarter and 25 million in the third. 

Giorgio Mule, a junior defence minister, told newspaper Il Messaggero: “It is a big mess, there is no point denying it.”

It comes as 18 European nations paused the use of the Astrazeneca vaccine over blood clot fears. 

Nicola Magrini, head of Italy’s medicines authority, yesterday claimed the decision by countries, including his own, was political. 

EU regulators again dismissed safety fears, saying “at present there is no indication vaccination has caused these conditions”.

The pandemic has claimed more than 102,000 lives in Italy, which was the first country to be severely hit by the virus in March last year. 

Earlier this week, large swathes of the country were plunged into lockdown amid a rise in infections. 

Bars, restaurants and shops were all ordered to close in hard-hit regions, with residents told to stay at home for at least three weeks.  

Frustration is also growing over the sluggish vaccine rollout, despite Mr Draghi’s aim of tripling the current vaccination rate to 500,000 jabs a day. 

"We have to speed up!" the government's new pandemic commissioner, General Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, said on the RAI TV channel over the weekend.

It comes as Italy and France last night announced they would “quickly” resume giving out the jab once the European regulator gives the all-clear. 

Both were among 20 European countries to suspend the use of the jab over blood clot fears – even though regulators say it is safe.

Mr Draghi spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday – and the two leaders agreed they were ready to begin vaccinating with the Oxford jab again.

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