The unknowns are numerous. But conceivable a restart of Italy probably for August, on the condition of bringing the infections back to 50 per 100 thousand inhabitants per week as soon as possible (today they are over 4 times as many), vaccinate 500,000 people a day and gradually reopen keeping the RT at 1 in order to balance the vaccine effect with the relaxation of measures. The new deaths would amount to between 10 and 30 thousand, with a lethality of the virus similar to the flu.
The pace of vaccines
These are the results of the study prepared by a group of experts from the Ministry of Health, the Higher Institute of Health and the Bruno Kessler Foundation, published a few days ago and which mark a positive road map. Self vaccinations will proceed apace(which means at least the current one, but it will take a huge effort to make up for the delays accumulated from January to today), the campaign will close in a total of 13 months. Therefore, given the departure in January, by the beginning of 2022. Thus 80 percent of the potential deaths that would occur in the absence of vaccines will be avoided. In this situation, the containment measures can be eliminated completely in 12 months (again for the beginning of 2022). To finally get to a Zero-Covid situation (with two consecutive weeks without contagions) it will instead take, in all, 18 months. These are the details of the best scenario, the one that outlines Italy’s exit from the pandemic. When solid? Impossible to say. Because there are very concrete variables that could define much more negative scenarios.
We start from the hypothesis that it is possible to administer 4 doses of vaccine per day for every thousand inhabitants (240 thousand per day in total), that 75 percent of the population is covered, that the weakest groups are protected as a priority, that vaccines also prevent infection (not just disease) and that their effect lasts at least a couple of years.
Therefore, the first aspect to be evaluated: will we be able to maintain an adequate and sustained pace of vaccinations? Up to now, in fact, the campaign has reached about the half of this milestone: there will therefore be a need to recover, going up for a certain period to 500,000 doses per day, in order to have vaccinated about 75 percent of the population. by July.
If the vaccination campaign instead proceeded at the rate of 2 doses per day for every thousand inhabitants (and here the worst scenarios are outlined), the campaign would last 2 years, mortality would rise and it would take 21 months to completely loosen the containment measures.
Duration and variants
The government can intervene on the increase in the pace of vaccinations, a primary weapon to get out of the pandemic. The variables that create the greatest unknowns are therefore others, those on which there are still no medical-scientific certainties. The first: how long is immunity on those who are vaccinated? If the effect of the drug disappears before a year, or even after 6 months, starting from next autumn, or in any case from the end of the year, there would again be a need for strong containment measures to avoid a restart of the virus (and mortality would risk being quadruple compared to the reference scenario). Also in this case for the rapidity of the vaccination rhythm would be decisive, because if the first vaccination campaign lasted 13 months – the scholars write – even with a short coverage it would be possible to start a second vaccination campaign while maintaining the epidemic under control. The ultimate goal of reaching the Zero-Covid situation would only move forward.
The other variable independent of health policies is that of the variants of the virus. The analysis assumes that the variantscan increase the transmissibility of the virus 20, 40, 60 and 80 percent more than the original one. Obviously, mortality would also be higher with a virus that spreads more rapidly, and already with a hypothesis of greater transmissibility above 20 percent the Zero Covid hypothesis would be difficult to achieve in 2 years. With a more powerful virus it would be necessary to maintain containment measures for a longer time, which in the presence of strong vaccination campaigns could in any case loosen almost completely after 14 months (even with a greater transmissibility up to 60 per cent).
Another aspect on which medicine at the moment has no certainty yet vaccines only protect against disease but not infection (if therefore the virus can be contracted and transmitted while not developing the disease). In this case containment measureshowever, they should be kept for a long time, even if not in the narrowest forms.
However, the key aspect remains the ability to implement an adequate vaccination campaign (with 4 doses per day per thousand inhabitants, plus the necessary recovery of lost time): if that condition exists, a return to a lifestyle identical to the pre-pandemic one can be expected within 7-15 months starting last January in most scenarios.
March 28, 2021 (change March 28, 2021 | 07:53)