Such is the worsening situation in Italy, Walter Ricciardi, adviser to the Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, warned hospitals in the country were now becoming overrun with coronavirus patients. Not only is the hospital system overrun with coronavirus patients but the health system is now unable to treat more conventional illnesses. He has therefore called for the current lockdown in Italy to last until Christmas in order to try and contain the spread of the virus.
Mr Ricciardi declared the next few months in the country will be “very tough” for Italy before a vaccine is potentially rolled out.
Speaking to Rai Radio Uno, he said: “The hospital situation is more or less dramatic throughout Italy, in some cases it is even tragic.
“We are no longer able to hospitalise patients, those who arrive at the hospital are once again the serious or very serious cases and many have to stay at home.
“We have two or three very tough months ahead at least November and December, maybe January.
“Then I think we can improve, a vaccine will arrive, a specific therapy and also a better season.
“These lockdowns last two weeks, although it would take longer to flatten the epidemic curve.
“For example, the lockdowns in China and here tell us that it takes more time to flatten the curve.
“We have to evaluate the situation weekly, but my forecast is that this lockdown will last at least a month or a month and a half.”
According to the European Centre for Disease Control, Italy currently has one of the highest 14-day cumulative number of coronavirus cases per 100,000.
At the time of writing, Italy is registering 671.1 cases, whereas the UK is reporting 477.5.
Like the UK, Italy is among countries now targeting the release of potential vaccines in order to control the sharp rise in cases from coronavirus.
Amid the hunt for a potential vaccine, the drug being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech has been found to be 90 percent effective during trials.
During phase 4 of trials, the drug was given to 43,538 participants from six countries which managed to 90 percent from the virus within 28 days of having the jab.
Pfizer chairman and chief executive Dr Albert Bourla said: “Today is a great day for science and humanity.
“The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19.
“With today’s news, we are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis.”
The UK’s Vaccine Taskforce has secured 30 million doses of the vaccine.
The drug being trialled by Oxford University and AstraZeneca is seen as the leading candidate among the 12 potential vaccines currently in phase 3 trials.
If the drug is proved to be successful, it is hoped it could be rolled out to the elderly and NHS staff before Christmas.
Vaccine use for the wider population will not be ready for use until spring next year.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.