Italian officials are currently investigating the Italian mafia possibly redirecting Italy’s supply of COVID vaccines away from those in “priority vaccination groups” and giving it to their friends and family, as reported by the NY Post.
A main point of concern has been the deaths among the elderly in the country, which has recently increased significantly. Italy has struggled in its vaccine rollout and the prime minister has blamed the rise on younger people “cutting the line”.
By the end of January, around seven out of every ten people who received the vaccine in Italy were under 60 years old and at least 1,000 are now under investigation across Italy, according to Politico, for not waiting their turn.
Prime Minister Mario Draghi said at a news conference, “With what conscience does someone jump the queue, knowing that it leaves another person vulnerable, who is more than 65 years old or is fragile and who has a concrete risk of death?”
An international think tank found an estimated 8,000 lives could have been saved in the country if more elderly people had been able to get the vaccine when needed, according to Politico.
The mafia has historically exerted control over the health care industry in Italy, especially in the south, where the number of people giving themselves the health care worker title has grown exponentially as this group is among the first to be vaccinated, causing suspicion to arise.
Several regions in the south have reportedly given as many shots to well-connected people like judges, politicians and journalists as people over 80.
“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,” Mario Giarrusso, a member of the country’s anti-mafia commission, told Politico.
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