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Vaccine, EU action key tools for Italy's post-COVID rebirth: president

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-01-01 12:01
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Head of the ASST Cremona vaccination Department, Antonella Laiolo, administers the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a worker of the Cremona hospital, as Italy begins vaccinations against COVID-19, at the Cremona hospital in Cremona, Italy Dec 27, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

ROME — The vaccine to prevent the coronavirus disease and the European Union recovery program will be two crucial tools for Italy's relaunch in 2021, Italian President Sergio Mattarella said Thursday in his New Year speech.

"The pandemic has carved deep scars in our lives and our society. It has worsened old inequalities and created new ones," said Mattarella.

However, he stressed that important and encouraging signals should allow the Italians to turn their fears and worries into positive energies to restart.

"We are now implementing complex strategies, starting with the vaccination plan that has begun across Europe," he said. "The vaccine and the EU's initiatives are the two crucial factors of our rebirth."

He noted that the EU has taken an important action - a 750-billion-euro ($916 billion) recovery fund -- to help member states deal with the economic consequences of the pandemic.

Mattarella said he wanted to be administered the vaccine, after the priority categories, including health workers, the elders and chronic patients, receive their shots.

He also encouraged the Italians to do the same and have faith in their own resources.

"We have been able to react, our society has slowed down but never stopped, and we must now be ready for the future," he said.

Italy kicked off the vaccination campaign on Dec 27. On Thursday, the office of Italy's Extraordinary Commissioner for the Coronavirus Emergency Domenico Arcuri said 14,813 people were administered the COVID-19 vaccine up to Thursday.

This figure comprised 8,090 women and 6,723 men. Most of those vaccinated were doctors, nurses and other health staff.

Italy on Thursday recorded 23,477 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. The latest data by the health ministry also showed 17,421 new recoveries and 555 new fatalities on a daily basis.

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