Public Policy Dynamics Italy #4

by RPP colleagues

Health and Politics in Italy

Total COVID-19 cases:2,809,246
14-day total COVID-19 cases per 100,000:289.24
14-day change:+7.72
Total COVID-19 deaths:95,718
14-day rise:2,989
  • Italy’s new Prime Minister Mario Draghi has appointed ministers of his large majority government and, after some debates, also the undersecretaries. It is a government with a large majority from across the political spectrum, and includes non-political figures.

  • During the hearing on the European Economic Recovery Fund, a number of important points were discussed by key figures in the health system, ranging from health infrastructures, local healthcare and research programmes. Since then, on 25 February, the Parliamentary Intergroup on Clinical Trials, headed by Beatrice Lorenzin, was officially launched.

  • Italy will not relax its current restrictions with the next emergency decree, the first to be issued under the new government led by Mario Draghi. There has been an increase of almost 10,000 cases compared to the previous seven days, and in some provinces the increase has been more than 20%. In the last two weeks, there has also been a worrying slowdown in vaccines, due to organisational difficulties.

Politics

  • Two weeks ago the new Prime Minister Mario Draghi appointed the ministers of his majority government. Tt is a broad, cross-party majority encompassing the political spectrum, with 4 Ministers from the Five Star Movement, 3 from the League, 3 from the Democratic party, 3 from Forza Italia, 1 from Italy Alive and 1 from the Free and Equal (LeU). The remaining eight ministers are chosen by the President, not as party politicians but as experts. The only major party not in the government is Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, which is still in opposition. Even though the Five Star Movement party (traditionally an anti-establishment movement) decided to back the new government, a group of 51 dissenting MPs voted against Draghi or abstained from voting his government in. Party leaders have stated that this dissent could lead to their expulsion from the party, though this may in turn lead to fewer M5S members being appointed as undersecretaries.
  • Mutual vetoes and pressure from the parties of the large majority complicated the appointment of the undersecretaries until the very end. The meeting was characterised by turbulence over names, crossed vetoes and a few unfulfilled requests. In the end, however, the count shows 11 undersecretaries for the M5s, 9 for the League, 6 for FI and PD, 2 for Italia Viva, one from LeU, one from the Democratic Centre, and one from +Europe.

 

Health

  • During the Hearing on the European Economic Recovery Fund in the Social Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies on 9 February, the President of the National Institute of Health (ISS) stressed the need to strengthen health infrastructure, establish better connectivity and the need to share information more promptly. He also added the need to invest in new pilot projects with test models, starting with sites of national interest. It was also remarked that the ministry's proposals aim to reform and invest in territorial healthcare, underlining the huge regional variation in local service delivery. The first objective would be to define common rules providing minimum standards for local care. Giovanni Leonardi, Director General of the Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the Ministry of Health, said they would ask for €100 million to be invested in clinical and organisational research programmes on rare diseases and rare cancers.
  • The Parliamentary Intergroup on Clinical Trials, chaired by former health minister Beatrice Lorenzin, was set up on 25 February. The group aims at ensuring the implementation of the decrees implementing the “Lorenzin Law Decree”, which came into force at the end of January 2018 but remained unimplemented, with a view to de-bureaucratising and simplifying the procedures for clinical trials from and reducing the number of Ethics Committees. The scope of the group is also to finally implement the European Regulation 536/2014 on clinical trials of medicinal products for human use, which must be transposed by the end of the year and encourage structural interventions to lead to an increase in the number of clinical trials. This is an important challenge for the new Parliamentary Intergroup, not least because the opportunities for relaunching research are affected by EU Regulation 536/2014, whose last deadline, after two extensions, is 31 December 2021. Furthermore, the Intergroup wants to establish research infrastructures, implement specific training courses and enhance the value of professionals working in clinical research at experimental centres.

 

Covid-19

  • An increasing number of areas in Italy are going into local lockdowns due to the increase in Covid-19 cases. Thus, Italy will not relax its current restrictions with the next emergency decree and the system of colour bands would continue. Ministers are evaluating measures to be included in the next emergency decree –  formally called DPCM – the first to be issued under the new government led by Draghi. The first draft of the decree is expected this Friday and the final version must be implemented by 5 March and will remain in force until 6 April, meaning that it will also cover the Easter period.
  • This week there has been an increase of almost 10,000 cases compared to the previous seven days, and in some provinces the increase has been more than 20%. In the last two weeks, there has also been a worrying slowdown in vaccines due to organisational difficulties linked to the scaling up of the vaccination effort. On the vaccination plan, AstraZeneca announced a 10-15% reduction in vaccine doses planned for delivery in Italy this week because of “the complex production process”. However, AstraZeneca has assured that it will meet its commitment to supply the country with 4.2 million doses in the first quarter of the year and denies new cuts in second quarter, confirming commitment to increase supplies with 10 million more doses planned for Italy by the end of June. In the meantime, Italian health authorities have increased the age limit for AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine by another ten years, approving it for use in people up to 65 years old.

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