Reportage. The Greens insist he should resign, and Meloni should clarify what happened in Parliament. ‘The minister has not clarified anything, and should follow suit and resign.’

PD and M5S say Schillaci’s explanations are insufficient

After the Greens and the Italian Left, the PD and M5S have also called on Health Minister Orazio Schillaci to shed full light on the anomalies uncovered by il manifesto in his work as a researcher and in his scientific publications.

From the Dems, former Health Undersecretary Sandra Zampa had this to say: “The news about Professor Schillaci’s research certainly requires rigorous investigation by the scientific community, and it is the professor himself who must clarify the issue inasmuch as it concerns him. Any misunderstandings must be cleared up.”

The same line was taken by the M5S deputies and senators of the Social Affairs committees: “It’s certainly a serious issue, and it is necessary for the minister to shed full light on the matter. There are major accusations against him, and we are waiting to understand his role in this affair,” said the MPs in a statement. “The explanations given so far by the minister are not sufficient, and we believe that it’s in his own interest, first of all, to clarify what happened.”

According to the Greens, the facts that have emerged so far, and the prominent coverage given to the news by prestigious international scientific journals such as Science, are enough to call for the resignation of the Health Minister from the government team: “The minister’s justifications are nothing short of ridiculous. We’re talking about a minister who has put his name to hundreds of scientific articles, and is now hiding behind the excuse of not being an ‘expert in electron microscopy,’“ accused Angelo Bonelli. “This is frankly unacceptable behavior for anyone in a position of power and responsibility, especially in an area as crucial as public health.”

Bonelli went on to call for Prime Minister Meloni to “clarify the matter”: “The government should come before Parliament and provide explanations. In Germany, Minister Franziska Giffey resigned for plagiarizing part of a doctoral thesis. Neuroscientist Marc Trevor Tessier-Lavigne left the presidency of Stanford University because the images in a number of research papers were faked. Anywhere else in the world, one would resign when faced with such facts; but not in Italy. And Minister Schillaci continues to ignore the serious matter in which he is involved.”

“Other European countries,” Bonelli concludes, “have standards to protect the integrity of institutions that we lack. The minister has not clarified anything, and should follow suit and resign.”

On Friday, the minister was a guest at the Italia Viva meeting on the Lazio coast, where nobody asked him any questions about the scandal. There, Schillaci gave generic reassurances about the possibility of new investments in the health service. “I spoke with Giorgetti and I will have to meet with him again. Healthcare goes beyond party politics, and the pandemic has shown how important the National Health Service is.” However, he didn’t give any specifics as to how much might be allocated to investments in the next budget. As for the new vaccines, he explained that they would be recommended for “the most fragile people.”

“We will campaign on this, but one doesn’t need terrorism, because the disease is different.”

He added: “I don’t like that we’re talking so much about COVID while leaving so many other important issues aside”; nonetheless, the virus did have one merit, that of “putting the importance of healthcare back at the center.”

As a guest of Renzi’s crew, the minister also launched into a defense of private health care: “When I look at other countries, we’re not doing so bad after all. I think we need more equitability, but there is a purely private system for those of economic means: we should not demonize it, but instead ensure that all citizens have efficient healthcare.”

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