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Coronavirus

Italy Lifts AstraZeneca Ban, Will Restart Shots

ROME — Italy’s pharmaceutical agency has formally lifted its temporary ban on AstraZeneca vaccinations after the European Medicines Agency ruled the shots were safe and effective.

It wasn’t immediately clear when the first jabs would be administered, but officials said Friday the speed with which they were proceeding with the administrative restart of AstraZeneca shots was a sign of their confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

The head of prevention at the Health Ministry, Dr. Giovanni Rezza, told a press conference that Italy only reluctantly halted the campaign out of an abundance of caution. But he said Italy needed to ramp it back up quickly to make up for lost time now that EMA had ruled.

He said Italy needed to more than double the 200,000 vaccinations per day the country had reached before the suspension to reach its goal of inoculating 80% of the population by September.

Top Italian public health officials held a press conference Friday to insist on the safety of the AstraZeneca shot in a bid to build confidence among the general population. They also defended their decision to suspend it as purely precautionary and done in consultation with other European countries in an effort to give EMA a chance to definitively rule on it.

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