Next to the computer that collects the data of the people who are about to be vaccinated against the coronavirus in the only hospital in the Republic of San Marino, there are maps of the city. They say that San Marino, these 61.5 square kilometers that border Italy on all four sides, it is the oldest republic in the world. And that some of its corners were declared a World Heritage Site.
Terzo Bernardi, an 80-year-old from San Marino, does not pay attention to the brochures. He stares at the hospital director, Dr. Ivonne Zoffoli, while she tells him that today they are going to vaccinate him, like 90 percent of San Marino residents, with Sputnik V.
“That is fine (It’s okay) ”, Says Don Terzo and surrender, meek, to the Russian serum from the ampoule written in Cyrillic.
But let’s go back to the maps that Don Terzo did not even look at: they are valued by foreigners who climb 750 meters above sea level of the star mount of San Marino, Titano, to get vaccinated in this republic of 33,500 inhabitants. They take them as a post-puncture souvenir.
“Many Argentines come to give the second dose because it seems that in his country the delay is very long, “he tells Clarion Dr. Zoffoli. “This morning we vaccinated three,” he details among the cast of Chinese, Japanese and Canadians, among the nationalities that come here.
San Marino has been vaccinating foreigners for two months. Health tourism started here in mid-May for everyone, except for Italians, who are not accepted in the vaccination center of the state hospital.
The turn can be taken out only through the hotel where the reservation is made, which cannot be less than three nights.
At the San Marino Idesign, on Via del Serrone, there are a few compatriots staying. None, however, willing to agree to the proposal of Clarion to give your testimony.
The three hotel nights required by the sanmarinese health service they start from 528.30 euros. It will be necessary to add the 50 euros that cost the two doses of Sputnik that San Marino agrees to apply in a period of 21 days. “We only vaccinate tourists with Sputnik,” they clarify at the hospital.
The doses of Pfizer that reached Mount Titano were reserved for those over 85, people considered at risk and now, for adolescents.
“We are pleased to inform our guests that all the staff and the hotel management are vaccinated”, Idesign boasts from its website.
And it is, these days, the news that all San Marino celebrates: with more than 75 percent of its people vaccinated, the republic achieved group immunity.
The joy, however, is not total since the antibodies that currently nest among the Sanmarinense were generated by the Russian vaccine, not yet accepted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
The non-recognition of Sputnik in Europe generates controversy.
In Italy, as of August 6, those who do not have a Green Pass, the green pass obtained after having completed the vaccination schedule with one of the serums approved by the EMA -Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen or AstraZeneca- They will not be able to enter closed bars or restaurants. They won’t be able to go to the movies either, to the theater, sporting events, swimming pools, gyms or theme parks.
“Our population protests because they tell us: ‘We were vaccinated with Sputnik but we cannot go to Italy. Couldn’t they have done something else? ‘ No, you couldn’t. Because in mid-February, everyone had started to vaccinate and we didn’t even have a vaccine, “he tells Clarion Sergio Rabini, health director of the Social Security Institute of San Marino.
The exchange between residents of San Marino and Italy is intense. Thousands of them live or work on one side or the other of the border and those San Marino vaccinated with Sputnik who have relatives in nursing homes in Italy, for example, they will need to swab before you can visit them.
“We were vaccinated with this vaccine that seemed good, advantageous, valid, and now it seems that we are the plagued ones, as if we were not vaccinated even if we have antibodies ”, complains the Sanmarinese Barbara Camogni, sitting in the piazza del Titone, on her way to the top of the walled city.
“An agreement had been made whereby Italy would provide us with Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, but given the delay suffered by Italy and the whole of Europe in the arrival of vaccines, clearly we were in line and suffered this decision,” recalls the health director. . People were furious “, says Barbara.
“The way that seemed most suitable to us was to have a good vaccine, either from the point of view of efficacy or from the point of view of safety, and we pointed to Sputnik V. And I would say that the results have been seen ”, adds.
“A month after starting the vaccination, we saw the effects: we were a state and a Covid Free hospital (Without Covid). We closed the apartment for two months reserved for Covid patients until mid-July, when contagion cases returned, especially among young people, ”says Rabini.
Today in San Marino there are 48 positive people in Sars-Cov-2, three of which live in Italy. “They are being followed by a team, the territorial Covid group, which follows positive patients at home and there is only one hospitalized patient,” lists the San Marino health director.
“It is true that then Pfizer came, but the Sanmarinense vaccine is Sputnik”Adds Rabini, who was an anesthesiologist at the state hospital for thirty years.
“I am a health director, I am not a politician. It interests me that the vaccine we have bought is effective and safe. It is clear that later there is a political issue. It is clear that perhaps Russia is not well regarded for this or another reason, but the reasons are only geopolitical, “says Rabini.
According to legend, San Marino emerged in the year 301, when the flintstones Marino, fleeing the persecution of Christians with which the emperor Diocletian had been cruel, founded a small community on Mount Titano, which managed to remain independent of the emperor and the pope on duty.
Apparently, also of the decisions that most European countries took en bloc on vaccines to fight the virus.