A record 600,000 doses of anti-Covid vaccines were administered in Italy on Friday, health authorities announced on Saturday, stressing that the peninsula was now in second place in Europe for the number of people vaccinated. “Yesterday was marked by a record number of injections in 24 hours, which reached the 600,000 mark, while the number of doses administered now exceeds the bar of 37 million”, welcomed the government body in charge of the vaccination campaign in a press release.
“Italy is also in absolute second place in Europe in terms of fully vaccinated population, just behind Germany, and ahead of France and Spain,” he added, attributing this success in part to the increase in the number of vaccination centers, which are today 2,666 against 1,500 at the beginning of March. 800 new centers will also be gradually opened in the coming weeks.
According to figures published on the Italian government website, 37.06 million doses of vaccine have been administered since the start of the vaccination campaign, and 12.7 million people have been vaccinated, or 23.48% of the population aged over 12 years old.
The pandemic has killed a total of 126,415 people in Italy, where the number of new cases and deaths has been steadily declining in recent weeks, with for example 2,557 new cases and 73 deaths recorded on Friday.
Faced with these declining figures, the government has initiated a gradual lifting of anti-Covid restrictions. The curfew, until now in effect from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., will therefore be pushed back to midnight from Monday. Bars and restaurants are also once again authorized to serve indoors, with tables limited to 4 people.
From Monday, travelers will be able to travel to Spain without undergoing a mandatory PCR test. A negative antigen test, proof of full vaccination or a cure from covid-19 will now be enough to enter the country, Spain’s health ministry said on Friday.
The minister in charge Carolina Darias expressed the hope that Spain will soon regain its position as a leader in international tourism. According to her, the relaxation of health measures is due to the success of the vaccination campaign. “Every day we take a new step towards standardization,” she said. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced on Twitter that ten million Spaniards, out of a population of 47 million, are fully vaccinated. So far, 19 million people have received at least one first injection, writes El Pais newspaper. The number of new infections has fallen sharply in recent weeks. On Friday, they were again below 5,000, half as much as at the end of April. Madrid is nevertheless an exception, the capital remaining considered a risk zone until at least June 20.
The Brazilian regulator Anvisa granted on Friday an exceptional authorization to import doses of the Russian anti-Covid vaccines Sputnik V and Indian Covaxin, while limiting their use. The National Agency for Health Vigilance (Anvisa) initially opposed their approval, considering that there was a lack of data to ensure their safety and effectiveness.
Several states in northeastern Brazil had demanded the import of 30 million doses of the Russian vaccine and the Ministry of Health had, for its part, requested the import of 20 million doses of the Indian vaccine.
Annvisa finally authorized the importation and use of 4 million doses of Covaxin on Friday, and an amount equivalent to 1% of the population of the six states which had requested to import Sputnik V.
The doses can also be administered only to adults between 18 and 60 years of age, with the exception of pregnant women, people suffering from co-morbidities, seropositive or carriers of the hepatitis B or C virus.
The batches used in Brazil must also have been manufactured in factories inspected by Anvisa and analyzed in a laboratory of Fiocruz, the benchmark public health institute.
“We do not attest to the quality, safety and efficacy of these vaccines, technical details are missing that must be worked out,” said Gustavo Mendes, one of the directors of Anvisa.
In April, after Anvisa’s initial refusal to import the Russian vaccine, its designers threatened to sue the Brazilian regulator for libel.
The vaccines currently in use in Brazil are AstraZeneca, the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine and that of Pfizer / BioNtech. Johnson & Johnson’s US vaccine has been licensed but is not available in the country.
In Brazil, which has more than 470,000 deaths from the coronavirus, vaccination is progressing only slowly. To date, less than 11% of the 212 million inhabitants have received their two doses of vaccine.
Argentina exceeded the threshold of 80,000 deaths from the coronavirus on Friday, for a total of around 4 million cases of contamination since the start of the pandemic, according to the country’s health authorities.
In the past 24 hours, 30,950 new cases of Covid-19 and 539 deaths have been recorded, bringing the total number of deaths to 80,411, while the average of new daily cases stood at over 500 last week.
At the end of 2020, Argentina had some 43,000 deaths. Since the start of 2021, this number has almost doubled, according to official data.
7,668 people are hospitalized in intensive care, equivalent to a national occupancy rate of 78.2%.
The epicenter of contagions remains the capital Buenos Aires and its periphery, where 15 million inhabitants live in a country of 45 million.
Argentina wants to give new impetus to its vaccination campaign from next week, when it starts producing the Sputnik V vaccine from the Russian laboratory Gamaleya, on its soil.
“Next Sunday, a plane will leave for Moscow to bring back the active principle so that production can begin immediately in Argentina,” President Alberto Fernandez said on Friday during a videoconference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Poutine.
To date, 11 million people have been fully immunized in the Latin American country.
Markets and shopping centers in New Delhi will be able to reopen on Monday, which marks a new stage in the deconfinement process, the Indian authorities announced on Saturday, in a context of declining Covid-19 contamination in the country’s major cities, after weeks of restrictions. The Delhi metro will also resume to 50% of its capacity, said the city’s Prime Minister, Arvind Kejriwal. Markets and malls will operate every other day, with half of them open every day.
Offices can also reopen at 50% capacity, but Kejriwal urged his fellow citizens to work from home instead.
The easing comes after Delhi last week allowed the resumption of work in construction and factories.
The state government of Maharashtra – which includes Bombay, India’s economic powerhouse – has announced a five-step plan to ease restrictions, depending on infection rates and hospital capacity.
According to official statistics, daily infections in India fell to around 120,000 from more than 400,000 in May. The death toll has also fallen, with 3,380 deaths reported in the past 24 hours, although this seems grossly underestimated.
At least 344,082 people in the country have died from the coronavirus, which is now rampant in some rural areas of the country.