COMO, Italy – The death rate is rising.
There have been 25,735 new cases of COVID-19 in Italy in the past 24 hours, with the infection rate stable at 7% as half of the Italian regions are again strictly closed as designated red zones a year after the country was effectively closed.
For the first time since the color-coded system was introduced last year, Lazio – the region with the capital Rome – has been included in the red zone. One in five in Lombardy comes from Como. And we're back in the red zone. It's no surprise that Prime Minister Mario Draghi is eager to get the Oxford AstraZeneca
Vaccine back in action despite concerns about side effects.
"I heard the sound of the ambulance today, it's like a soundtrack from that time last year."
Como, Milan, Bergamo, the city worst hit by COVID-19 last year, and the rest of Lombardy are back in the “red zone” and are completely closed until April 6th. At Easter, the lockdown will be extended nationwide with Sardinia, which had received the all-clear, back to join us.
Last time, barbers, hairdressers, lingerie stores, and makeup desks stayed open – perhaps to lighten the mood of image-conscious Italians – but this time they've all been closed. "We will look like cavemen" was one response to these measures, but the government is on high alert.
On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency said the benefits of Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine "continue to outweigh the risk of side effects," adding that the one-shot vaccine "does not come with an increase in overall risk is connected by blood clots. "
Italy is one of several countries in the European Union that have announced the resumption of vaccinations for this medicine, according to the regulator's statement.
To restore confidence in the vaccine, Draghi himself said he would take AstraZeneca. In Rome, Giovanni Rezza, Head of Prevention at the Italian Ministry of Health, told Associated Press and others on Friday: “It is clear that the withdrawal of the suspension is a great relief for us as we need to accelerate the vaccination campaign. ”
This means doubling the 200,000 daily vaccinations the country received before the vaccine was suspended. It's a race against time. According to the New York Times Tracker, 104,241 people have died from COVID-19 in Italy to date, a 14-day increase of 34%. There have been more than 2.7 million deaths worldwide.
The vaccinations started here on December 27th. Pfizer
and the German partner BioNTech SE
Two-dose vaccines and, after a short break, AstraZeneca's single-dose vaccine, which will be boostered approximately 12 weeks later, are available here.
Alison Fottrell: "Last time, hairdressers, hairdressers, lingerie shops and makeup desks stayed open – perhaps to lighten the mood of the image-conscious Italians – but this time they have all been closed."
"We came, we were pushed and we went"
Before it stopped here, AstraZeneca had been administered to the teachers in a carpet-bomb fashion, and the speed of the meetings surprised us all.
I woke up to a message on a Saturday morning in early March to take me to Milan. Accepting the inevitable fate of the vaccination, I jumped out of bed, took a lump of sugar from the bowl on the way to the door, for the sake of the old days, and drove down the freeway into town.
Late in the morning I stood in line, caught a glimpse of co-workers I hadn't seen in the flesh in over a year, and tried not to run across the lawn to hug them. We came, we were pushed, and we went. At noon I sat in my car and drove back to the lake.
Fortunately, my colleagues all weathered the 48-hour storm of fever and chills. I don't have against it.
Shortly after the vaccine was temporarily suspended, the college websites posted an announcement that those who were vaccinated and did not have any serious effects should simply rest.
"However, there is little advice for people with persistent side effects."
However, there is little advice for people with persistent side effects. Meanwhile, my heart rate had risen to 120 when I gasped for breath early one morning this week.
Ten days after I got my shot, the local hospital was full of patients. I practiced meditation to escape the sound of howling and moaning from other cubicles.
That may be why Dr. Strada, who gently woke me out of my trance, is firmly imprinted on my psyche – like a hatched duckling that catches a glimpse of its caregiver and clings to this thought of salvation. Despite the turbulence in the area, Dr. Strada was meek, patient and composed and made me feel safe.
He is one of the "many great examples" of "silent protagonists of solidarity" that Draghi praised in his speech on March 18 at the Bergamo cemetery when he placed a wreath on the stele dedicated to the 3,400 official victims of the city was the virus – although other estimates put that number closer to 6,000.
That was the day on which President Sergio Mattarella officially set the "National Day of Remembrance for All Victims of the Coronavirus Epidemic". Bergamo has now become a symbol of the pain of the entire nation. Draghi's address calls for our elders to be looked after, never to be left alone and unprotected again.
In April 2020, a local newspaper reported that Bergamo had 1,322 more deaths in nursing homes compared to 2019. The city had become a hotbed for the pandemic, with many elderly people being taken to hospitals where full protective measures were not in place.
Draghi remembered the field hospital that had been built in a few days by the Alpini, civil defense and volunteers. Finally, he paid tribute to the support Italy has received from Europe and compared it to a family that has stayed by our side.
“People are angry, they want to know how and why this happened. They feel that the government has failed and that the measures that were taken were too late. "
AFP via Getty Images
"We felt blind"
The local poet Ernesto Olivero wrote a poem for the many who died, which is now set in stone in the cemetery. The words may be dedicated to his hometown, but they extend out into the world. What unites the victims of this pandemic is the loneliness created by the forced isolation that loved ones have and still have to endure. And the seclusion that others faced in their deaths.
The poem reads: “You are there. I am convinced that you are next to the people who die alone, with drawings of a grandson, a heart, a kiss, a hello sometimes stuck on the resuscitation glass. You are there, close to each of them, you are there, by their side while they are fighting, you are there and you take their last breath, the delivery of love to you … "
Locals initially failed to understand the arrival of the long lines of military vehicles that rolled through the streets in the early March days of last year. It was only gradually becoming clear to them that the morgue and crematorium were at full capacity and that the coffins, which were lined up in the city's only cemetery, needed to be relocated.
“… You are there, you die with them to take them to where you will be with them forever, forever. You are there, friend of every friend who dies in Bergamo, in Lombardy, in every part of our tormented country. You are there and you comfort her, hug her, hold her hand, transform her fear into serene trust. You are there because you are not leaving anyone, you who have been abandoned by everyone … ”Olivero's poem continues.
“Nobody sang on the balconies here in Bergamo. We were horrified, we were afraid. "
People are angry, they want to know how and why this happened. They feel that the government has failed and that the measures that were taken were too late. "We felt blind and had little information about what was happening," says a Bergamasco who has been in self-imposed quarantine since the outbreak. “Nobody sang on the balconies here in Bergamo,” she quickly adds. "We were horrified, we were afraid."
The hashtag #noidenunceremo or #wewilldenounce has been in trend since March 2020. His pursuit of justice and mission are from the heart – these are people who are trying to deepen their grief. "If someone could have acted and not if someone has put their own interests before the lives of thousands of people, they will pay criminally for their actions and be responsible for their negligence," the resident demanded back, said.
To achieve their goal, they have set up a non-profit committee to collect every complaint and provide the judiciary with all evidence and complaints so that a thorough investigation and trial can take place. By April 2020 they already had 50,000 members, an increase to 70,000.
"We were the first to get the virus and we will be the last to get rid of it," continues the Bergamasco resident. "Almost everyone here knows someone who has died." They are still haunted by images of firefighters rescuing the seriously ill from their homes in order to lure them out of their homes for treatment.
"The lockdown started late, the industrial sector refused to close the store, and no swabs were made at the local Alzano hospital until the situation got out of hand. I still can't understand. I'm still in disbelief. And I think "It can happen again. I heard the sound of the ambulance today, it's like a soundtrack from that time last year."
The Oxford-AstraZeneca Medical Package Leaflet has now been updated. and the vaccine has been put back on the Italian market with the 200,000 suspended doses due to resume over the next two weeks.
And my side effects? So far, they have shown no signs of degradation. Doctors seem confused and at a loss to make a prognosis. You just don't have the facts. They will report it and send you for tests. And keep your fingers crossed for answers. As we face this pandemic year 2, we are all breaking new ground.
Alison Fottrell is a teacher and writer based in Como, Italy.
This essay is part of a MarketWatch series called "Shipments Out of a Pandemic".
AstraZeneca was brought back to the Italian market with 200,000 doses suspended, due to resume over the next two weeks.
AFP via Getty Images