The Italian Health Ministry Monday changed course and signed an order approving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for people 65 and older.
Even though Europe’s drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, fully approved the vaccine, the Italian government initially balked, as did Germany, at giving the vaccine to people over 65 due to “limited data” on its efficacy within that age group. Germany has reversed course on its use, as well.
The doubts raised by some health officials prompted people to turn down the vaccine, resulting in doses going unused and slowing down the vaccination process throughout the continent.
Italy’s decision comes as the nation’s COVID-19 death toll approaches 100,000 since the pandemic started. The nation is expected to pass the milestone by Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Britain reopened all its schools Monday for the first time since late 2020. The openings come as the country experiences some of its lowest coronavirus death tolls since October. The coronavirus causes the COVID-19 disease.
Also on Monday, Vietnam launched its COVID-19 vaccination program, with its front-line health care workers and first responders receiving the first shots.
In Japan, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the country will speed up its vaccination program after a slow start due to vaccine and syringe shortages. Three weeks in, a little more than 46,500 front-line medical workers have received their shots. The elderly will be next in line.
The Reuters news agency reported that Suga promised to have enough of the shots to vaccinate the entire population by the start of the Summer Olympics in July.
The European Union has warned member states against buying Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, since the EU has not yet completed a review of it. Despite the warning, several nations have made moves to purchase the vaccine.
The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported early Monday that there are almost 117 million global coronavirus cases.
The United States has more infections than any other location with nearly 30 million, followed by India with 11.2 million and Brazil with 11 million.