With Omicron becoming the most dominant strain globally, infecting more than 2 million people almost every day since the beginning of the year, governments in many countries decided to tighten pandemic measures, using every option available to get people vaccinated against the deadly virus.
Last week, the Supreme Court blocked Biden’s vaccine-or-testing mandate, resulting in relief for vaccine deniers, at least for the time being, but some countries are determined to go all the way and implement vaccine mandates for everyone, regardless of age, sex, or previous infection status.
One of these countries is Italy, where the local government is about to require everyone over the age of 50 to be vaccinated beginning February 1; those who refuse the vaccine after that date will face large fines and job loss. The Italian government is aware of the risk of uncontrolled virus spread because the country was heavily affected by the Covid-19 in the early stages of the pandemic.
As we previously reported, there has been a very dangerous trend in Italy, particularly in the northern areas near the Austrian border, where people organized parties with Covid-positive cases sharing drinks and hugging all in an effort to become infected with Covid-19 and thus be eligible for the so-called ‘green pass’ without being vaccinated. At least one person infected with Covid-19 at those parties died as a result of Covid-19 complications.
Italian and Austrian authorities have been working together to combat this trend, and such parties are no longer organized in Italy’s northern region. However, with the announcement of the vaccine mandate for those over the age of 50, a similar trend is continuing across the country, but in a different and more sophisticated format.
According to the Daily Mail, one of several major news outlets that covered the new trend, Italian anti-vaxxers are paying $150 to have dinner and wine with Covid-positive people in order to catch coronavirus and avoid getting vaccinated.
The new trend arose as a result of the vaccine mandate, as the only alternative to receiving the vaccine is to recover from Covid-19, which occurs as a result of the body’s development of antibodies during an infection. To be exempted from the vaccine mandate, a person’s recovery from an infection must be registered on their national health care, just like in all other countries.
As soon as the government announced the vaccine mandate, tens of advertisements and offers appeared online within hours. While those who were Covid-positive offered dinner dates and parties so that the unvaccinated could contract the virus, those who were vaccine-hesitant did the opposite, offering to pay to hang out with currently positive cases.
One such party offer, found in Tuscany, included a truffle dinner with Barolo wine, as well as a Covid-positive person. The attendance cost was $150. According to Italian police, cited by The Daily Beast, one anti-vaxxer wrote online, ‘I am urgently looking for a positive and I am willing to pay.’
According to local health experts, those involved in such situations should be aware that their actions are punishable by law, and the authorities should arrest these people because they are working in opposing party to Italy’s efforts to fight the pandemic.
‘This uses the same logic as playing Russian roulette. For a person who has never had COVID, who has not been vaccinated, encountering this virus can mean a mild form of the disease, but it can also mean ending up in intensive care,’ infectious disease expert Pier Luigi Lopalco said. ‘The discriminating factor between these two occurrences, probably, lies in genetics. And there is nothing that can be done to know in advance.’
Italy has registered 139,265 deaths linked to the virus since its outbreak emerged in February 2020, and has reported 7.55 million cases to date.