In the campaign for the early parliamentary elections in Italy, the topic of Corona suddenly came to the fore.

The reason is the nomination of the 67-year-old microbiologist Andrea Crisanti from Padua by the social democratic Partito Democratico (PD).

Crisanti was nominated by PD leader Enrico Letta as the lead candidate for a seat in the Senate for the foreign constituency in the Europe region.

During the pandemic, Crisanti had always spoken out in numerous television appearances in favor of strict measures and restrictions on public life to contain the pandemic.

Matthias Rub

Political correspondent for Italy, the Vatican, Albania and Malta based in Rome.

  • Follow I follow

Former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, head of the right-wing national Lega, criticized the nomination of Crisanti by the PD as an attempt to instrumentalize the pandemic for the election campaign.

Conversely, Crisanti accused Salvini that with the Lega boss in power during the peak of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, “we would have had 300,000 Covid victims today instead of 140,000”.

"Links of the right-wing camp to the anti-vaccination movement"

According to the Ministry of Health in Rome, by August 17, 140,000 deaths related to a corona infection were not registered, as Crisanti stated, but 174,000.

As in Germany, however, no distinction is made in Italy as to whether a patient has succumbed to an infection with the coronavirus or whether he or she only tested positive for the virus in connection with treatment in a hospital.

Salvini rejected Crisanti's claim as unfounded and as disrespectful to the victims' families.

Salvini described the microbiologist as a “television virologist” and a “mosquito expert”.

Giorgio Palù, professor emeritus of virology at the University of Padua, described his university colleague Crisanti as an "expert on mosquitoes" because he had devoted many years to researching diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.

PD leader Letta also rejected Salvini's criticism of Crisanti's nomination as a PD candidate.

"The numerous reactions to Crisanti's candidacy make clear the connections of the right-wing camp to the anti-vaccination movement 'No Vax'," Letta said, affirming: "Professor Crisanti is right.

If Matteo Salvini and Giorgia Meloni had ruled in 2020, how many thousands more deaths would we have had to mourn?”

Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who leads a small left-wing party and has been in charge of the department since September 2019, described the renewed debate about the pandemic measures as an "indicator of the risk" that the country would take if the right-wing alliance led by Salvini and Meloni won the elections .

"The way they approach the issue of the right to health and Italy's recent health history, the way they wink at Bolsonaro and Le Pen, Putin and Orbán, is a foreshadowing of how they would lead our country to its doom," Speranza said the daily newspaper "Corriere della Sera" on Thursday.

The minister was confident that the parties on the left would catch up with the right-wing alliance before the elections.

"The outcome of the elections is completely open, 40 percent of Italians have not yet decided who they will vote for," said Speranza.

The left could win over many undecided voters, especially with the topic of health policy.

“We defend universal health coverage, the right of everyone to be treated regardless of their economic situation.

Instead, right-wingers around the world want a system based on private insurance and credit cards,” Speranza said.