ITALIAN officials are probing whether mafia gangsters are redirecting Covid jabs to their corrupt pals rather than the country’s vulnerable.
Italy’s vaccine rollout has been sluggish with 12 million doses administered including 4.2m going to those aged 80 and above and only 1.26m jabs given to people in their 70s.
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Italian authorities fear the mafia could be ‘managing the vaccinations’ in some areas of the countryCredit: Getty
Health workers have received 3.1m doses while a total of 2.4m have gone to an opaque category named as “others.”
Now, Italy’s anti-mafia commission said it fears the high rate of jabs in this “other” group in some southern areas of the country may mean gangsters are “managing the vaccinations.”
Head of the commission Nicola Morra has this week ordered four regions – Sicily, Calabria and Campania in the south and Valle D’Aosta in the north – to hand over their jab data and explain their rollouts.
Mario Giarrusso, a member of the anti-mafia commission, told Politico: “People are being vaccinated who are outside of any priority category specified by the government, particularly in some regions where there is high density of mafia, and we suspect that the mafia is managing the vaccinations.”
Areas in the south of Italy have struggled with mafia-infiltration into their public services including health care, reports say.
This comes as Italy has failed to focus its vaccine strategy on its elderly population despite being one of the world’s worst-hit countries.
According to researcher Matteo Villa, the country would have suffered 8,000 less deaths since December if it had stuck firmly to a plan of vaccinating pensioners first.
Meanwhile, 33,000 people have died in Italy from Covid-19 since early January.
Mr Villa, of think tank ISPI, said: “An unbalanced strategy, the delays of the regions and vaccine cheats have brought us here.”
Earlier this week, it emerged that Italians were being forced to book vaccine appointments in Serbia for Chinese and Russian Covid jabs.
According to Corriere Della Sera, doctors in Italy are now attempting to book vaccine appointments in Serbia, a country that has 26 per cent of the population vaccinated.
The eastern European nation, which is located outside of the EU, has seen a surge in its inoculations due to deals with China and Russia for their jabs Sinopharm and Sputnik V.
Although not approved by the European Medicines Agency, Italian doctors are continuing to book jab appointments.
Italians are now booking through the Serbian consulate in Milan and the embassy in Rome, Corriere Della Sera reports
In Serbia, vaccines are free for foreigners and people with or without a residence permit.