In an interview with FRANCE 24 in Rome, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio discussed the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, which has hit Italy particularly hard. He also explained Italy's deconfinement strategy and called for an "international alliance" to create a vaccine under UN auspices. Finally, Di Maio expressed hope that the European Union would be "on par with the challenge it has to live up to".
With Italians living in lockdown since March 9 as part of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, Italy's foreign minister discussed the deconfinement strategy planned by the Conte administration. "With the help of an expert task force, we intend to work on reopening the country," Di Maio told FRANCE 24. "We want to reopen those economic segments of the country that can do so under proper conditions because we want to preserve health," he added. The lockdown in Italy is scheduled to be lifted on May 4. "Our goal in terms of going back to normal is a vaccine," Di Maio stressed.
Italy, the first country to be affected by Covid-19 in Europe, has recorded more than 21,600 fatalities – the heaviest death toll among EU member states – and at least 165,155 cases of people infected with the virus.
As teams of researchers around the world work on a Covid-19 vaccine, the Italian foreign minister said that he had suggested pooling research efforts to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. "I spoke to Antonio Guterres, the SG (Secretary-General) of the UN, and I shared with him a proposal that we have, setting up a huge international alliance for a coronavirus vaccine. We all know that if we want life to regain normalcy, we need a vaccine (…) We have to accelerate its discovery and its distribution (...) and we need to do this under the aegis of the UN and Guterres is perfectly in agreement with us."
Finally, European leaders are set to hold a summit on April 23 and the European Parliament is calling on them to adopt a massive package of stimulus and reconstruction measures to help revive the economy.
"We have high expectations; we hope the EU will prove to be on par with the challenge it has to live up to," Di Maio told FRANCE 24.