August is revealed to be a crucial month in the war against the pandemic that has its main killer in the Delta variant, dominant in 95% of the circulating virus. With 60% of the population over 12 years immunized, Italy, the country where the devastation began in Europe and already has almost 130 thousand deaths, has formed a barrier of vaccinated which is resisting the new offensive well, much more contagious than the original strain of Covid-19.
With Delta at the forefront, the fourth wave of the pandemic began in the peninsula, launched in June with the viral power a thousand times worse and an infection capacity six times greater than the Alpha variant.
Delta already dominates Europe and has spread to the rest of the world since it was born in India. It is especially punishing the United States and has complicated Israel and Britain’s plans for victory over the pandemic, the two countries at the forefront of mass vaccination.
The summer of 2020, when very little was known about the pandemic and there were no vaccines in sight, had seen an exhilarating drop in the aggression of the pandemic.
The same was expected to happen now, but Delta rammed Europe in midsummer.
A list of cocktails served in a bar in Milan, Italy, with the names of the Covid-19 vaccines. Photo: BLOOMBERG
The vaccine barrier
“If it weren’t for the success of the vaccinations, we would have triple the number of inpatients, a good part in intensive care, and many more deaths to mourn,” explains resuscitation specialist Andrea Zanoni, who directs the intensive care rooms at Hospital de Santa Ursula, in Bologna.
Zanoni shows room 26 where there are 42 less severe Covid patients and ten in intensive care, “nine of them not vaccinated”.
The chief resuscitator emphasizes that “the hospitalizations have been many more now than in August of last year, when we had only three patients in intensive care and the ordinary rooms were half empty”.
And he adds: “The situation pays us more but so far there are no dramatic situations. The patients have changed. Those of this year are much younger. There are very few elderly ”.
Zanoni said that “absolutely the difference is in the vaccines. If not, we would have triple the number of patients. It shows that vaccinations protect 98% and that the remaining 2% develop the disease in a mild, brief form. As long as no new variants appear, with current vaccines the defensive system works. We are protecting the rich part of the world. In the rest, where there is no inoculation campaign and the circulation of the virus is broader, the probability that other variants will develop is very high ”.
Before the next return to school, adolescents and young people seek to be vaccinated in Italy. Photo: REUTERS
-What do you expect for September? (In the northern hemisphere, autumn begins on the 21st of next month, the cold and the prospects for new waves of the virus), he was asked.
– “We actually believed that this summer was going to be better, like last year. Delta took us by surprise. Experts from the University of Bologna say that by the end of this month, early September, there will be a further increase in the pandemic. But they estimate that the situation will not be serious like what we are experiencing as of March. Would have to be a milder surge, with a much lower number of internees. We have the greatest stress now, in August.
Dr. Zanoni believes that “everything depends on the vaccination campaign.”
Start of classes
“Classes start in September, school will be the top priority. We must mass vaccinate young people who are responding very well so far, “he remarks.
The head of infectious diseases at the University of Pisa, Professor Francesco Meniquetti, is concerned about the reluctance noted among the 4.5 million people over 50 who have not yet been vaccinated.
In this enormous sector, the main reluctance of the “no vacs” against vaccines is noticeable, but even more so of those who doubt or are directly afraid of the puncture.
A client shows his certificate of vaccination against the coronavirus to enter a movie theater in Milan, days ago. Photo: AP
In fact, the percentage of vaccinations has decreased, which throughout Italy was marching at a triumphant rate of more than half a million a day.
Rejection of “anti-vaccines”
Young people surprised the rest of society by literally putting their shoulders to the saving injection massively.
Professor Menichetti does not hide his annoyance against those who refuse vaccination “increasing the risk of others.”
Those 4.5 million reluctants “if they are not vaccinated they will not let us free the hospitals, intensive care units and cemeteries.”
“They will pay a very salty price for giving up vital protection. Among the few certainties that scientists have today is knowing that vaccines protect against serious disease and death, “warns the expert.
“It is possible to speculate if the vaccinated person can be infected or not, but it is a fact that if today we have 30% of hospitalized with respect to the forecasts, it is thanks to the vaccines. He who does not get vaccinated puts his health and that of the others ”, he remarks.
In debates, in the media and on the street a greater intolerance grows towards all movements “no vacs” opposed to vaccines, supported by far-right parties.
Professor Francesco Pregliasco, a virologist at the University of Milan, advises patience and confidence in vaccines. “They are the only way we have to get out,” he anticipates.
Pregliasco believes that in the autumn (boreal) “we will have to face a tail blow of the pandemic although lighter than in the other waves”.
“It is likely that we will have to face a third dose and the annual update doses, but we will probably never have a declaration of the end of the pandemic,” he clarifies.
Pregliasco believes that in the future there will be “a situation of tolerance with few cases and few deaths, as has happened with the AIDS epidemic.”
The Milan scientist believes that “in the next three months it will be possible to vaccination of children under the age of twelve. Also because it is children who spread the virus. In any case, we are talking about inoculations from the age of five, with Pfizer and Moderna ”.
Italy plan to begin vaccinating children under 12 years of age in the coming months. Photo: EFE
The two large North American laboratories are already delivering the first pediatric vaccines.
In the coming weeks the priority will be for the young people thinking about the resumption of the classes on September 7th.
The Lazio region, with its capital in Rome, is opening new “mouths of fire” for youth vaccinations, which include “days off” for young people between 12 and 17 years old, in which it will not be necessary to make reservations.
For the remainder of August, the Campos Bío Médico, the San Andrés hospital, the Umberto I hospital and the San Camillo hospital will host the youngest.
The goal is to achieve 60,000 daily injections. Groups of pediatricians will direct the mass vaccination operations. They will also be present in other hospitals and health homes.
In addition, the hundreds of vaccine structures will be used to the maximum to complete the inoculations of 2.7 million young people between 20 and 29 years old.