The Public Prosecutor Gaetano Bono, leading the investigation into the death of 43-year-old Stefano Paternó, a Navy petty officer in service at the base of Augusta (Syracuse), who died on 9th March last year at his home in Misterbianco (Catania, Sicily) fifteen hours after receiving his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, is seeking a complete overview to ascertain what happened to Mr Paternó.

The outcome of his investigation could also shed light on other investigations (currently about ten) opened throughout Italy into suspicious deaths related to receiving the first dose of the vaccine. It was the same Prosecutor who issued a European Investigation Order by requesting new “technical unrepeatable” investigations to establish the nature and characteristics of in the contents of the bottles of the AstraZeneca vaccine for six batches. The vials would be delivered to the Netherlands, Rivm – National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, for investigation.

He said: “It was only working in synergy with the Dutch authorities and of course the Carabinieri Nas that allowed us to complete everything quickly and promptly. I spoke with the Dutch liaison magistrate in Italy several times. Let’s not forget that this is an investigative act to be carried out on foreign soil, and I would say that we witnessed an example of judicial cooperation in criminal matters“.

There are six vials for each batch, taken from all over Italy and brought to the Dutch laboratory, respecting the cold chain: the vaccine must be kept at a temperature of between 2 and 8 degrees: “And with the assistance of a specialist company, we were able to certify it as found by the Dutch laboratory, which I remember is the only European laboratory responsible for the control and release of each batch before marketing“.

The inspections, in execution of the European Investigation Order, took place on Wednesday 14th and Tuesday 20th April at the Rivm (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment) in Bilthoven, the Netherlands.

The Prosecutor’s Office of Syracuse, headed by Chief Prosecutor Sabrina Gambino, has implemented an investigative coordination with ten other prosecutors’ offices throughout Italy which are investigating the suspicious deaths of people who had received their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine.

This demonstrates that the European Investigation Order is a useful tool for facilitating European cooperation.


Author: Dr. Caroline Peloso, post-doc researcher at UNITO