Prosecutors in Italy have launched a manslaughter investigation into the death of a music teacher who died one day after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. The judiciary in Biella, in northern Italy, opened a preliminary probe into the death of 57-year-old Sandro Tognatti, whose cause of death remains unclear.
Tognatti had his shot on Saturday afternoon, his wife told Italian newspapers. He developed a high temperature during the night and felt ill again on Sunday morning. An ambulance was called, but he died shortly afterwards.
Prosecutors have already seized a batch of 393,600 shots of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine following the death of Tognatti. The regional government also suspended use of the batch, ABV5811, after the music teacher fell ill and died in circumstances that have not yet been clarified.
The move represents another blow to the image of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe and will further hinder the government’s anti-coronavirus vaccination campaign. However, officials stress that no link has been found between the death of Tognatti and AstraZeneca’s vaccine at this stage and the probe is intended to establish whether anyone has a case to answer.
“It is therefore important to ensure that continued administration of the drug throughout the country does not lead to further consequences (harmful or fatal) … until we are completely sure that (Tognatti’s) death cannot be attributed to the above-mentioned inoculation,” prosecutor Teresa Angela Camelio said in a statement.
Last week, magistrates in Sicily ordered the seizure of a separate batch of AstraZeneca vaccine following the sudden deaths of two men who had recently been given the vaccine. On that note, the Italian government has said there was no evidence of a connection between the deaths and the vaccines and has allowed the AstraZeneca vaccine to continue to be administered.
By contrast, Ireland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland have all suspended use of the vaccine following blot-clotting issues, some of them fatal, in people who had used it. While the AstraZeneca vaccine has yet to be approved for use in the US, the drugmaker is reportedly pushing for emergency-use approval by the end of this month.