Covid-19: Italy to give left-over vaccines to 'whoever is available' to avoid waste

Order comes same day as Italy temporarily suspends AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine.

Italy's coronavirus emergency commissioner General Francesco Figliuolo has signed an order stating that if any vaccine doses are left over at the end of the day and cannot be stored they should be administered to whoever is "available in that moment" to avoid waste.

Figliuolo's move, part of Italy's national vaccination plan, follows his comments on Italian television show Che tempo che fa on 14 March when he called for "common sense" in relation to vaccine waste.

"Enough with wasting doses" - Figliuolo said - "If there are priority categories that can use it, good, otherwise it goes to the next category, or if not anyone who passes must be vaccinated."

To date there have been 6,715,732 vaccines administered throughout Italy, with more than two million people receiving a second dose, according to the latest data from the health ministry.

The order from Figliuolo came the same day that Italy temporarily suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine as a "precautionary measure."

The move follows the vaccine's suspension by a number of European countries over reports of blood clots in some recipients, though the company and international regulators say there is no proof the shot is to blame.

In recent days Italy gave the green light to Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine, the fourth to be licensed by the national medicines agency (AIFA) after Pfizer-BionTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

Last week Figliuolo announced a plan to accelerate Italy's vaccination campaign which has dogged by delays and shortfalls in vaccines.

The goal is to reach half a million doses per day nationwide, tripling the average daily number of vaccinations in recent weeks, and vaccinating at least 80 per cent of the population by September.