Italy’s PM gets AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine two weeks after briefly suspending its use

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ROME, March 30 (Xinhua) — Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi received his first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday – the same product that his government had decided to temporarily halt the use of earlier this month.

Draghi and his wife Maria Serenella Cappello, both 73, received the vaccine at a center in Termini, Rome’s main train station.

The AstraZeneca is one of the three approved vaccine for use in Italy together with those produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. Of the three, AstraZeneca’s has been the most controversial after reports of it causing blood clots that resulted in two deaths in Italy. After the second death, the use of the vaccine was suspended for four days ending March 19.

Having investigated the reports, Nicola Magrini, director general of Italy’s main medical authority (AIFA) said the suspension was a “political” decision and he declared the vaccine safe to use.

According to Italian media, Draghi’s aim with choosing the AstraZeneca jab was to build public confidence in the vaccine after reports about its side effects.

As of Tuesday, 9.8 million Italians have received at least the first COVID-19 vaccine dose of one of the three approved vaccines, while the number of fully-vaccinated individuals — those who have received two doses — totaled 3.1 million, or around 5.1 percent of the country’s population.

Meanwhile, 267 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 83 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on March 30. Enditem

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