Unvaccinated 28-Year-Old in Denial of COVID Diagnosis Dies After Ripping Off Oxygen Mask

A 28-year-old man who bucked the reality of COVID-19 died in an Italian hospital and his father is on a ventilator still battling the virus.

Italian news outlets said Luigi Cossellu was admitted to the hospital on January 16. He was reportedly unvaccinated against COVID-19 and questioned his diagnosis even after being transferred to a hospital's Intensive Care Unit.

Cossellu was being treated in Latina, south of Rome, and at one point tore off his oxygen mask, according to Ansa, an Italian wire service. After denying he had COVID-19, he reluctantly put the mask back on and Ansa reported that he died at Latina's Santa Maria Goretti Hospital.

When Cossellu was admitted, he had severe respiratory failure, according to Italian newspaper L'Unione Sarda. Silvia Cavalli, director-general of the Azienda Sanitaria Locale of Latina, told Il Gazzettino, an Italian newspaper, that unvaccinated people frequently arrive at the hospital only after the virus has progressed to more serious symptoms.

"They are already serious because on their part there is the denial of the disease," Cavalli told Il Gazzettino.

About 75 percent of Italy's population is considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a Brown University tracker. As is the case with the United States, officials have started to limit what parts of society unvaccinated individuals are able to participate in and implemented new restrictions at the start of the new year.

The new "super" health pass requires Italians to provide proof of vaccination or recovery from a recent infection to enter public transport, cafes, hotels, gyms and other venues. Italians used to be able to show a negative test to enter certain places.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi pushed back on criticism of the mandates, saying at a meeting with reporters that two-thirds of beds in intensive care units are occupied by unvaccinated individuals. Failing to comply with the mandate comes with a starting fine of 100 euros, the equivalent of about $113.

Italy's seeing an influx in COVID cases as Omicron spreads and doctors have warned that surges in hospitalized patients could hinder hospitals' ability to carry out other functions, according to the Associated Press. Draghi said at the beginning of the month that Italy shouldn't lose sight of the fact that "most of the problems" the country is facing are because of unvaccinated people.

Cossellu's father was also hospitalized at the same time as his son. The unvaccinated 55-year-old is battling a severe case of COVID-19, according to Ansa, and is intubated.

covid hospitalization death mask unvaccinated
Luigi Cossellu died of COVID-19 after denying his diagnosis in the hospital, according to Ansa, an Italian wire service. Above, medical staff members tend to a COVID-19 patient at the Intensive Care Unit at Cremona hospital, in Cremona, northern Italy, on January 11, 2022. Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images