Italy’s former PM Berlusconi tests positive for coronavirus

Italy’s former PM Berlusconi tests positive for coronavirus
According to Italian media on September 2, 2020, Silvio Berlusconi has been tested positive for COVID-19. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 02 September 2020

Italy’s former PM Berlusconi tests positive for coronavirus

Italy’s former PM Berlusconi tests positive for coronavirus
  • Berlusconi, 83, will continue working from his house in Arcore, near Milan

ROME: Former Italian Prime Minister and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, media reported Wednesday citing sources in his Forza Italia party.
Berlusconi, who will turn 84 at the end of September, had two tests come back positive, but "is continuing to work from his home in Arcore" near finance hub Milan, "where he will be spending the planned quarantine period", the sources told news agency AGI.
"He is asymptomatic," said his doctor, Alberto Zangrillo, according to the daily La Repubblica.
Berlusconi was first tested on August 25 after returning from a holiday in Sardinia where he owns a luxury property.
The result was negative, but he was tested again after some people he met on the Italian island were found to be positive, including businessman Flavio Briatore, former managing director of the Benetton Formula One racing team.
Briatore's "Le Billionnaire" nightclub in Sardinia was closed down in August after employees tested positive for the coronavirus.
Messages of support for Berlusconi came in from all sides of the political spectrum.
Matteo Salvini, head of the far right League party, wished him a swift recovery, as did former leftwing prime minister Matteo Renzi.


Blow to global vaccine drive as Pfizer delays deliveries

Blow to global vaccine drive as Pfizer delays deliveries
Updated 15 January 2021

Blow to global vaccine drive as Pfizer delays deliveries

Blow to global vaccine drive as Pfizer delays deliveries
  • Pfizer said the modifications at the Puurs factory were necessary in order to ramp up its production capacity from mid-February of the vaccine
  • There will be “a significant increase” in deliveries in late February and March, the US group promised

BERLIN: A global coronavirus vaccine rollout suffered a major blow Friday as Pfizer said it would delay shipments of the jabs in the next three to four weeks due to works at its key plant in Belgium.
Pfizer said the modifications at the Puurs factory were necessary in order to ramp up its production capacity from mid-February of the vaccine developed with Germany’s BioNTech.
There will be “a significant increase” in deliveries in late February and March, the US group promised. The European Commission also confirmed that promised doses for the first quarter will arrive within the period.
But European Union nations, which are desperately waiting for more doses to immunize their populations against the virus that has already claimed almost two million lives worldwide, expressed frustration.
Germany, the EU’s biggest economy, voiced regret over the “last minute and unexpected” delay.
It urged the European Commission — which undertook joint procurement for the bloc — to “seek clarity and certainty” for upcoming shipments.
Six northern EU nations also warned in a letter to the Commission that the “unacceptable” situation “decreases the credibility of the vaccination process.”
The letter signed by ministers from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden further asked the Commission to “demand a public explanation of the situation” from the pharmaceutical companies.
Across the Atlantic, Canada also said it was impacted by the delays, calling it “unfortunate.”
“However, such delays and issues are to be expected when global supply chains are stretched well beyond their limits,” said Canada’s Procurement Minister Anita Anand.
Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine, which was developed at record-breaking speed, became the first to be approved for general use by a Western country on December 2 when Britain gave it the go ahead.
After Britain rolled out its immunization drive, the EU followed from December 27.
The latest shipment delay will likely add fuel to anger over the bloc’s vaccination campaign, which has already been criticized for being too slow compared to the United States or former EU member Britain.
The European Commission has also been accused of not securing enough doses early enough.
Just last week, the EU struck a deal to double its supply of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine to 600 million doses.
The urgency of immunizing the population has grown over fears of virus variants first seen in South Africa and Britain, which officials warn are more infectious.
But vaccine makers had repeatedly warned that production capacity was limited.
While Pfizer is augmenting capacity at Puurs, its partner BioNTech on Friday secured authorization to begin production at Germany’s Marburg.
The challenges of getting millions of vaccines around the world are also huge as the BioNTech/Pfizer jabs must be stored at ultra-low temperatures of about minus 70 degrees Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit) before being shipped to distribution centers in specially-designed cool boxes filled with dry ice.
Once out of ultra-cold storage, the vaccine must be kept at two Celsius to eight Celsius to remain effective for up to five days.