Covid: Why are Italians refusing the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine?

  • Video report by ITV News Europe Editor James Mates

The vaccine rollout in Italy has been slow, but with millions waiting for their injection some key groups are refusing the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab when it is offered to them.

For every 100 people, the UK has vaccinated 23.3, whereas in EU the figure is just 4.88.

In Italy the number is 4.96, and case numbers in the country have been staying at high levels in recent days.

In many EU countries they consider this Covid jab second best to either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

It comes after some European politicians were talking down the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab to cover the EU being slow to complete contracts and beset by delays from suppliers, all of which has backfired and reduced the take-up of the vaccine

In Italy, teachers and police officers under the age of 50 have been moved up the priority list, but only if they accept the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Representatives of the police are demanding they are given the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine instead, saying they want the one with the greatest efficacy.

Dr Paolo Mezzana has said the doctors in Italy are asking for a different vaccine because the AstraZeneca one takes a while for immunisation to come into effect and they need protection now.

He said this viewpoint is being interpreted incorrectly by some believing if doctors do not want it then why should they have it.

Dr Mezzana said: "We are saying that it's a good vaccine, very good."

He added it's good because of how easy it is to administer and store.

Some EU countries have said they will not be giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to its elderly over fears it is not as effective for old people.

AstraZeneca, Oxford University and the UK government have denied this and World Health Organization and EU guidelines say the vaccine works for everyone.

Only a very small amount of studies have been done on the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine in elderly people, but the company says there's no reason to suspect age will make their jab less effective.