Come if a plane crashed every day. Even the use of this image, which is often used to give the measure of what is happening, is now becoming commonplace. But perhaps it still has its validity. Why the plane that hits our country is the largest of all, at least in Europe. It happens everywhere, with us even more.

The comparison

The first wave hit us in such a violent way that it still weighs on the overall death toll. At the peak of the second, last December, we also overtook the United Kingdom, until then the black sheep of the West. Now we are in the middle of the third, hopefully the last. Vaccines have arrived, which should be the first weapon to bring down our abnormal number of deaths. And the color system has been confirmed, yellow, red or orange zone, introduced on November 3 to cushion the effects of the free all summer. Yet our daily bulletin continues to be dire, averaging 400 deaths per day in the past month. In February, we had recorded 38 deaths per week per million inhabitants. More or less on par with France and Germany, respectively at 39 and 37. And better than the United Kingdom (60), struggling with the English variant. In the past four months, a different story had begun thanks to vaccines. In the UK, deaths have risen from 79 per week per million inhabitants to the current 11. In Germany, from 55 to 16. In France, which also has the highest saturation rate for intensive care places in Europe, from 40 to 30 . Italy had also dropped, from 60 to 43. But it was the only country that in this period of time has registered an increase in deaths, going from 38 deaths per million inhabitants in February, a figure that in any case would not have taken away the sad record, to 43 in March. Our daily catastrophe. It is worth asking once again if there really is an Italian anomaly. And above all, why.

The victims

The latest report from the Higher Institute of Health (March 30) sets the average age of deceased patients at 81 years of age among those who tested positive for Covid with the swab. Over 61% of the total deaths are of people over 80, 24% concern the 70-79 year olds. The first study on the potential effects of the Coronavirus vaccine was published as early as last October on the New England Journal of Medicine, and had only one recommendation: to secure the fragile sections of the population. After, the others. At the end of December we began to have the tools to do it, vaccines. But Italy has made other choices. In the first month and a half of the campaign, the distance with Germany and France, for the silence of the United Kingdom which is now racing to itself, was enormous. As of February 19, the over 80s who had received at least one dose were only 6 percent compared to 23 percent in France and 22 percent in Germany. At the end of March, Germany reached 72%, against 57% of Italy and France. The difference has narrowed. But our recovery in recent weeks is not enough to bring down the death curve. For two reasons. The first dose of the vaccine takes effect after 12-14 days. And then, the story of this epidemic says that the effect of any virus containment measure on the number of deaths becomes tangible after 4-6 weeks. Meanwhile, as early as January 24, Great Britain had vaccinated 75 per cent of the over 80s with a first dose. On Friday 2 April, there were only ten deaths in 24 hours. The lowest death toll since September 14, 2020, when it looked like it was almost over.

The oldest country

It was starting over instead. Even then, in that autumn that now seems far away, many argued that we die so much because we are the oldest country in Europe. But Germany has a median age of just over a year than Italy. And the UK also has 24% of the population over 60 compared to our 30%. And then there was the failure of primary care. Our healthcare system, modeled on National Health Service English, assigns the role of “controllers” to the family doctors, persons in charge of the management of the therapeutic flow who send the seriously ill patients to the specialist, but without adequate means as is the case in Germany and France where local medicine is organized on an insurance basis. This, together with the continuous cuts in health that occurred from the 2008 crisis onwards, could partly explain the disaster of the first phase.

Close late

But there was more, and worse, during the second wave. As well as in this third. Our continual delay in chasing a fast-moving virus. In March 2020 we were the first to close, with an average of 54 deaths per day, while Britain did so last, when it already counted 140. It had a terrifying peak, 920 deaths in 24 hours, and a plateau mortality lasted longer than in any other country. In October, we were the ones who triggered the zone system when things went very badly, with 350 deaths a day. In London they had already closed shops, gyms and restaurants for almost two weeks, after hitting 120 deaths in 24 hours. And since then, after also shutting down schools on January 6, the UK has maintained strict restrictions. Germany had taken similar measures since November 2, and since December 16 has triggered an even tougher lockdown. Ditto for France, which has only kept schools open since October 30, until the recent surrender, adding a curfew that began at 6pm. Columbia University meanwhile it has established that if during the first wave the US and European countries had acted two weeks earlier than they did, they would have reduced deaths by 85 percent. The UK, Germany and France also moved late. But unlike us, they have steadily maintained their containment measures ever since.


Their restrictions have led to a collapse in mobility – that is, the movement of people – which according to estimates made by Matteo Villa dell’Ispi, from Christmas to mid-February in Germany was 60 percent compared to normality, then settling on a average of minus 50%. Italy, which closed later, still had a peak of travel around Christmas, with a reduction in mobility of only 20%. But above all, it has reopened. Before all the others. On January 31 we return to yellow, and since then the movements have remained limited but only drop by 30%, while the reduction is always at least 50% in Germany and the UK. Although France is less incisive, it has a constant decline over time, -40% on average. In March, we had three times as many deaths as in Germany, and thirty percent more than France. Not to mention the comparison with the United Kingdom.

The future

A recent study prepared by the Ministry of Health, the Higher Institute of Health and the Bruno Kessler Foundation outlines some possible scenarios for our country. Going forward with the current restrictions, and provided that half a million people a day are vaccinated in order of age, it is possible to return to normal by August. The gradual abandonment of containment measures, estimated at 25, 50 and 75 per cent, would move this goal forward by 14, 16 and 17 months from the start of the vaccination campaign, which took place on December 27th. And it would also result in the loss of another 40,000 lives in the worst case. It is not a question of being aperturists or closurists. You can do it all. Just be aware that there is always a price to pay.

April 8, 2021 (change April 8, 2021 | 09:30)

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