Covid-19 cases in Italy reached their highest level in several months this week due to manufacturing problems that caused vaccines to be shipped to Italy at a slower rate than expected, forcing certain areas to return to confinement to prevent the worst-hit countries in the world to break out again.
Italian officials blamed this latest wave on the more contagious variant of the coronavirus that was first discovered in the UK, which swept Italian schools and became the country’s main strain last month.
The country’s hardest-hit areas such as Lombardy, which was also the epicenter of the first coronavirus wave in Italy last spring, have been partially blocked in recent weeks because of fears that hospitals will start to fill up again.
The country is still well below its peak last fall: in November and early December, Italy reported more than 40,000 cases, with 800 deaths on some days.
So far, Italy has injected about 5.2 million coronavirus vaccines, taking 8.7 doses per 100 people, roughly in line with the EU average, but less than half of the US vaccination rate.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Italy has reported 99,578 deaths from the coronavirus. In terms of total deaths, Italy’s epidemic is second only to the United Kingdom, the second largest death toll in Europe, and the sixth largest death toll in the world.