Public Policy Dynamics Italy #5

by RPP colleagues

Health and Politics in Italy

Total COVID-19 cases:3,067,486
14-day total COVID-19 cases per 100,000:289.24
14-day change:+143.76
Total COVID-19 deaths:99,785
14-day rise:4,067
  • In response to the delay in preparing the Recovery Plan, to be submitted to the European Commission by 30 April, Prime Minister Mario Draghi has decided to hire the consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. However, this decision was not entirely welcomed by figures within the government. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party finds itself without a leader after the – almost – unexpected resignation of its Secretary Nicola Zingaretti.

  • The Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) has approved the reimbursement for one of the world's most expensive gene therapies – Zolgensma – to treat Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) type 1, that affects an average of one newborn child in every 10,000. On the Covid-19 vaccine front, a number of vaccine batches have been suspended as a precautionary measure.

  • On 2 March, Draghi signed the new Prime Minister's Decree (DPCM), which will remain in force until 6 April. the continuous change in the number of vaccine doses guaranteed for Italy resulted in the fresh changes to the plan.

Politics

  • In response to delays in the preparation of the plan to be submitted for the Recovery Fund (Piano Nazionale Ripresa e Resilienza - PNRR), Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi has decided to recruit consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. to help with designating funds from the European Union's recovery package. The firm is to advise the Finance Ministry and help expediate the drafting of Italy's plan to spend its €209 billion share. Draghi's cabinet has until 30 April to present Italy's Plan to the European Commission. However, McKinsey's hiring has caused disquiet within his governing coalition, whose preference, by tradition now, goes to advisers from within the State and not “outsiders” from the private sector.
  • The pandemic continues to influence national political life. Due to the rush of Covid-19 infections, the Council of Ministers approved a decree-law postponing administrative and by-elections to a date between 15 September and 15 October. The measure concerns municipal elections (including some large cities such as Rome, Milan, Naples, Bologna, Turin), by-elections for the Chamber of Deputies in Siena and regional elections. In the meantime, the political situation continues to be very turbulent. This week, in fact, the Secretary of the Democratic Party Nicola Zingaretti decided to resign from his role, a decision that came as a surprise to many, even within the party.

 

Health

  • Aifa has approved the reimbursement of the drug Zolgensma, a gene therapy for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) type 1, for children up to about three years of age. The approval comes after pressure from the vice-chair of the Social Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, Michela Rostan.  SMA type 1 affects an average of one newborn child in every 10,000 and access to gene therapy, regulated by Law 648/96, was severely limited given the prohibitively high cost of the drug - the most expensive of its kind in the world. Rostan said that it was now necessary to continue the research and monitoring work in order to widen the access band even further.
  • A number of vaccine batches have been suspended as a precautionary measure in Italy and six other EU countries. Both the EMA and Aifa mentioned possible side effects with blood clots causing episodes of multiple thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, although no direct correlation has been proven at the moment. The first suspensions of a suspected batch took place in Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Latvia. Denmark has also announced the suspension of the vaccine, and on Thursday (11 March) Aifa decided to suspend a further individual batch in Italy.

 

Covid-19

  • On 2 March, President Mario Draghi signed the new Prime Ministerial Decree (DPCM) setting out measures to combat the pandemic and prevent contagion from Covid-19. The Decree will be in force from 6 March to 6 April 2021 and confirms, until 27 March, the ban already in force on travelling between different regions or autonomous provinces. In the red zones, schools of all levels, including kindergartens and primary schools, are required to suspend their activities.
  • In the meantime, the Covid-19 vaccine plan has changed again. On 11 March, the third version of the document jointly prepared by the Ministry of Health, the Extraordinary Commissioner, ISS, Agenas and Aifa was presented to the Unified Conference. It contains important updates that make the Plan converge towards a prioritisation system predicated on age. The aim is to speed up the process, given that about 50 million doses are expected in the next quarter. Specifically, the top priority will remain vaccinating people over the age of 80, school staff and the police, for whom immunisations have been underway for weeks. At this point, however, the plan has changed from the previous version. Five new priority categories have been identified, based on age and the presence of underlying conditions:
    - Category 1: High fragility (extremely vulnerable people; severe disability);
    - Category 2: People aged between 70 and 79;
    - Category 3: People aged 60-69;
    - Category 4: People with underlying morbidities aged <60 years, without that connotation of severity reported for extremely vulnerable persons
    - Category 5: The rest of the population aged <60 years.

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