On Wednesday, Draghi said the regions’ different approaches to vaccinating people over 80 were unacceptable, adding that some “neglect their elders to favor groups that claim a priority probably based on some contractual power.”
In Tuscany, a region generally admired for its healthcare system, only about 6 percent of people over the age of 80 have been fully vaccinated, prompting a public letter from prominent citizens.
“Inefficiency,” they wrote, “produces deaths.”
Matteo Villa, a researcher at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies who has studied the coronavirus pandemic, said Italy’s strategy of vaccinating only healthcare workers first had resulted in a bottleneck that made the virus more deadly. .
“When the delays came,” he said, “we still had a lot of older people to vaccinate.”
Guido Bertolaso, the former head of Italy’s civil protection agency who is now in charge of the vaccine campaign in Lombardy, said the country had not acted under emergency conditions.
He blamed drug companies for failing to deliver on promised deliveries because of Italy’s troubles. “When you plan, you need to know where to get the vaccine, at what time, how much, weekly,” he said. In any case, he added, “in Italy with planning, we are not very good.”
Avoidable organizational and logistical problems have slowed deployment and angered Italians. In Lombardy, a rich northern region at the center of Italy’s outbreak, intensive care wards are still filled with elderly and dying Italians, making it an emblem of Italy’s missteps.
“Every time the phone rings, I hope it’s them,” said Ester Bucco, 84, from Castiglione Olona, in the Lombardy region, who signed up for vaccination two months ago but doesn’t have an appointment yet. He walks around the house with his home phone and says he started taking anti-anxiety pills to cope. “I really want to see my grandchildren.”