Italy plans primrose-shaped gazebos for COVID-19 vaccination campaign

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy plans to install primrose-shaped pavilions in its art plazas to dispense vaccines against the highly contagious disease caused by the novel coronavirus during a campaign that begins next month.

Italy, the first western country affected by the pandemic, overtook Britain on Saturday to report the highest official death toll from COVID-19 among European countries.

Domenico Arcuri, Rome’s special commissioner for the COVID-19 emergency, confirmed on Sunday that Italy expected to begin vaccinating socio-medical staff and residents of nursing homes with 1.8 million doses by mid-January.

Before that, European countries are expected to choose a day for a symbolic joint start of vaccination campaigns across the continent, Arcuri told a press conference.

There would be around 300 distribution sites in Italy, increasing to 1,500 once the vaccination campaign is at its peak, Arcuri said.

“We may be able to build some lookouts at the beginning of the campaign, but these structures are for when all Italians start getting vaccinated,” he said.

The Italian government was confident that the majority of Italians will be vaccinated in September.

The primrose-shaped pavilions were designed by architect Stefano Boeri, who said his team had chosen the flower, which heralds the arrival of spring, as a symbol of the campaign, whose motto is “Italy is reborn with a flower.”

A total of 64,036 people have died in Italy since the outbreak began in February, against 64,026 in Britain, data showed on Saturday.

Boeri, famous for designing Milan’s Vertical Forest skyscraper, said the pavilions would be powered by solar energy and built with recyclable materials such as wood and fabric.

They will be easy to dismantle and rebuild in a different location, he said.

Boeri did not charge anything for his project and Arcuri said other professionals and firms were stepping up to offer free services and supplies, which would lower the cost of the initiative.

Report by Valentina Za; Editing by Bernadette Baum