File photo taken on May 18, 2020 shows a logo in front of AstraZeneca's building in Luton, Britain.(Photo by Tim Ireland/Xinhua)
Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) Thursday banned AstraZeneca vaccine lot ABV2856 as a "precautionary measure" following the death of an Italian soldier vaccinated from that lot.
"At this moment there is no causal link established" between the administration of the vaccine and death.
ROME, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Italy has blocked the use of a large lot of AstraZeneca vaccine following the death of an Italian soldier vaccinated from that lot, but the country has stopped short of banning the vaccine outright.
Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) Thursday banned AstraZeneca vaccine lot ABV2856 as a "precautionary measure." The agency stated that it "reserves the right, if necessary, to take further measures" despite the fact that "at this moment there is no causal link established" between the administration of the vaccine and death.
The agency said it is conducting an investigation into the soldier's death in conjunction with government health experts and military officials.
AstraZeneca's vaccine, which was approved for use in Italy on Jan. 29, is the most recent one of the three vaccines in use in the country. The other two are the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, approved on Dec. 21, and the Moderna vaccine, approved on Jan. 6. All three vaccines require two doses to be fully effective.
At least four other vaccines are in the late stage of approval verification in Italy, with media reports indicating the one-shot vaccine from the United States drug maker Johnson & Johnson is likely to become the next one approved for use in Italy.
A man receives the COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Rome, Italy, Feb. 15, 2021. (Photo by Alberto Lingria/Xinhua)
This week, the makers of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine announced they signed a deal to produce their vaccine in Italy starting no later than July, though that does not guarantee approval for use in the country.
The vaccine rollout in Italy has been hindered by supply problems and internal distribution issues. In January, Italy threatened to file a lawsuit against Pfizer and BioNTech when they failed to keep up with the terms of their supply contract, and earlier this month it blocked the export of more than 250,000 AstraZeneca doses destined for Australia because the British and Swedish pharmaceutical giant had fallen behind on its delivery plans for Italy.
In January, Italy was one of the first countries in the EU to successfully vaccinate at least 1 percent of its population. But as of early Friday, just 1.86 million Italians had been fully vaccinated, or just over 3 percent of the country's population. The country's overall vaccination rate is now near the bottom of the EU, according to the latest information from data firm Statista.
Meanwhile, 263 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 81 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on March 9.
A medical worker displays a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Rome, Italy, Feb. 15, 2021. (Photo by Alberto Lingria/Xinhua)■