ROME — The mayor of Cremona, one of the northern Italian towns first hammered by the coronavirus during the pandemic’s initial explosion in Europe, received a call over the weekend that the local vaccination center was empty. The region’s booking system had failed to set up appointments with older residents, leaving more than 500 doses of vaccine at risk of going to waste.
“There was staff, there were also vaccines, but there were no people,” said the mayor, Gianluca Galimberti, adding that the situation had been bad for weeks. Similar scenarios are playing out throughout the country, as the authorities struggle to get vaccines to older and vulnerable Italians who most need them.
Europe’s vaccination efforts are moving at a maddeningly slow pace compared with those in United States and Britain. The temporary suspension last week by multiple countries of AstraZeneca, the vaccine that the European Union has bet on, was only one indication of how Europe’s rollouts have been plagued by an overabundance of caution, bad deals and flouted obligations by pharmaceutical companies that have created a supply shortage.
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