CategoryFrance

French Covid infections slow as vaccinations open up to all ages

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New Covid-19 infections in France have dropped to the lowest rate in a year, with the government banking on a stepped-up vaccination drive to bring the epidemic under control. From Wednesday, all adults, regardless of age or health status, are allowed to be vaccinated, if they can find an appointment within 24 hours.

“Today the evolution of the epidemic is rather favourable. The downward trend is clear. I am vigilant and I am optimistic,” Prime Minister Jean Castex told France 2 television on Tuesday, after health ministry data showed the number of new coronavirus infections increased 2.11 per cent this week, compared to last week, the the slowest pace since June 2020.

Covid hospitalisations are falling, down 638 to 25,028, with 4,743 patients in intensive care units.

Castex said the numbers show the situation in France is improving, and the government is hoping increased vaccinations will continue the trend.

https://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20210512-rise-in-french-covid-cases-slows-as-vaccinations-open-anyone-finds-an-appointment

Covid 3rd wave peak in France ‘appears to be behind us’: PM

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The peak of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in France “appears to be behind us”, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday, announcing that travel restrictions will be relaxed from early next month.

He told reporters there had been a “genuine fall in the circulation of the virus over the last 10 days”, confirming that restrictions confining people to a 10-kilometre (six-mile) radius of their homes would be dropped from May 3.

France is currently under its third lockdown to stem the coronavirus but this time it has been considerably more relaxed than the previous ones, with outdoor activities encouraged to promote mental health.

Most non-essential shops have been closed, however, along with cafes, restaurants and also cultural venues, with players in many sectors piling pressure on the government for a reopening after months of closure.

Castex said “shops, certain cultural and sporting activities and the cafe terraces” could reopen “around mid-May”, depending on the evolution of the health situation.

He emphasised that the government could also allow reopenings on a regional basis starting with those areas with lower virus prevalence.

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210422-covid-3rd-wave-peak-in-france-appears-to-be-behind-us-pm

European regulator says Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is ‘safe and effective’

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The European Union’s medicines agency has said the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is “safe and effective” to use following an investigation into reports of blood clots in a small number of recipients.

The decision by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) comes after more than a dozen European countries – including Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, France and Sweden – halted the vaccine’s rollout over clotting fears.

The EMA said the benefits outweigh the risks – and the vaccine is not linked to an “overall risk” of blood clots.

However, the agency’s safety committee has also said it can’t rule out a potential link with a “small number of cases” of a rare clotting disorder occurring after the vaccination.

It has therefore recommended that governments “raise awareness” of the possible effects by including them in product information.

https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-european-regulator-says-oxford-astrazeneca-vaccine-is-safe-and-effective-12249663

Italy aims to vaccinate at least 80% of population by end of September

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Italy said on Saturday it aimed to vaccinate at least 80% of its population by the end of September, following criticism about the slow pace of the rollout of a coronavirus vaccination campaign in one of worst-hit nations in Europe.

Francesco Paolo Figliuolo, an army general and new special commissioner for coronavirus, released a national plan to administer 500,000 doses a day at full capacity, according to a cabinet office document.

Italy has registered 101,881 deaths since the outbreak emerged in the country in February 2020, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the seventh-highest in the world. It has reported 3.2 million cases of infection to date.

Some 1.95 million Italians, equal to just 3.8% of the eligible population, have been administered two jabs of vaccine so far, sparking public criticism about the slow pace of the rollout and prompting the appointment of Figliuolo.

Italy expects to receive an increasing number of vaccines, with total deliveries raising from 15.7 million doses in the first quarter to 52.5 million between April and June to a peak of 84.9 million in the third quarter, the document said.

It plans to broaden the health operators administering shots by boosting an existing agreement to employ family doctors and by using dentists, junior doctors, doctors from the Italian Sports Medicine Federation and others.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-italy-vaccines/italy-aims-to-vaccinate-at-least-80-of-population-by-end-of-september-idUSKBN2B50L0

Oxford vaccine does protect older people, Europe told

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A single Covid vaccine dose gives high levels of protection against severe disease, even in the oldest age groups, more evidence shows.

A study on patients in two Bristol hospitals found both Pfizer BioNTech and Oxford AstraZeneca jabs prevent 80% of hospital admissions among over-80s.

Some European countries are refusing to use the Oxford jab on older groups because of a lack of convincing data.

Lead researcher Prof Adam Finn said the findings should change their minds.

France agreed to offer the vaccine, which is easier to store than the Pfizer jab, to over-65s only recently, while Germany still isn’t doing so.

“This study is much more important for non-UK countries than it is for the UK,” said Prof Finn, who is running the study at the University of Bristol.

In the UK, this age group has now been immunised, he said.

“But there are lots of doses of AstraZenena vaccine available in European countries and they are not being given to people over the age of 65 – in some countries over the age of 55 – for lack of data.

“Well here are the data… showing that you can save lives in elderly people by giving them a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and those countries need to get on and start doing that as fast as possible.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-56267473

U.S. hospitalizations have been declining for more than two weeks. Newly reported cases remain below 200,000.

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U.S. hospitalizations for Covid-19 have now been declining for more than two weeks, while newly reported cases are hovering around 150,000 after remaining above 200,000 for most of December and early January. The metrics, while declining, remain high and reported deaths, a lagging indicator, were near 4,000 again on Wednesday.

The easing of the fall surge in the U.S. has led states to begin rolling back some restrictions on businesses and daily life. But government officials and health experts around the globe continue to monitor new, highly transmissible variants, which have jolted case numbers in the U.K. and elsewhere, and led to a fresh round of restrictions. In France, officials are considering stricter measures as soon as Saturday.

www.wsj.com/livecoverage/covid-2021-01-28

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Israel leads vaccine race with 12% given jab

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Israel has given vaccinations against coronavirus to more than one million people, the highest rate in the world, as global immunisation efforts step up.

Israel has a rate of 11.55 vaccination doses per 100 people, followed by Bahrain at 3.49 and the UK at 1.47, according to a global tracking website affiliated with Oxford University.

In comparison, France had vaccinated 138 people in total by 30 December.

More than 1.8m people have now died of the virus around the world.

The comparative figures on vaccination are put together by Our World in Data, which is a collaboration between Oxford and a UK-based educational charity.

They measure the number of people who have received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Most of the vaccines approved for use so far rely on two doses, given more than a week apart.

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The E.U. begins its vaccine rollout, aiming to inoculate more than 450 million people

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From nursing homes in France to hospitals in Poland, older Europeans and the workers who care for them rolled up their sleeves on Sunday to receive coronavirus vaccine shots in a campaign to inoculate more than 450 million people across the European Union.

The inoculations offered a rare respite as the continent struggles with one of its most precarious moments since the pandemic began.

Despite national lockdowns, restrictions on movement, shuttering of restaurants and cancellations of Christmas gatherings, the virus has stalked Europe into the dark winter months. The spread of a more contagious variant of the virus in Britain has raised such alarm that much of continental Europe rushed to close its borders to travelers coming from the country, effectively plunging the nation as a whole into quarantine.

“Today, we start turning the page on a difficult year,” Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president wrote on Twitter. “The #COVID19 vaccine has been delivered to all EU countries.”

For Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy, the vaccine’s arrival could not come soon enough. Italy’s suffering at the outset of the pandemic served as a warning for the world, and the current death toll is again among the worst in Europe.

“Today Italy reawakens. It’s #VaccineDay,” he wrote on Twitter after a 29-year-old nurse at Rome’s Spallanzani hospital was the first person to be inoculated. “This date will remain with us forever.”

The nurse, Claudia Alivernini, said she hoped the vaccination campaign would signal “the beginning of the end” of the pandemic.

In Spain, a 96-year-old great-grandmother, Araceli Rosario Hidalgo, was the first to receive the vaccine. The Los Olmos nursing home, where she lives, is in Guadalajara,  a city that has a special storage facility where the first doses of the vaccine were delivered on Saturday, transported from Belgium.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez wrote on Twitter that the  vaccinations marked “a hopeful new chapter.”

Similar scenes played out across the continent, although not every member of the bloc followed the rollout plans. In Germany, a nursing home in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt jumped the gun, inoculating dozens of residents and staff members on Saturday, hours after the doses arrived. Officials in the Netherlands said they planned to begin vaccinations on Jan. 8.

But all E.U. member nations now have a supply of vaccine on hand to distribute.

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/12/27/world/covid-19-coronavirus-updatesHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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French medical regulator approves COVID-19 vaccine

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French medical regulator HAS said on Thursday it had approved the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for France’s vaccination rollout, after the European Medicines Agency gave its go-ahead on Monday.

“The vaccine can be used for people aged 16 and over, including elderly”, the regulator says.

The European Union is gearing up for a vaccination campaign of unprecedented scale following regulatory approval for the shot. France plans to start its vaccination programme on Dec. 27.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-france-vaccine/french-medical-regulator-approves-covid-19-vaccine-idUSKBN28Y0ZSHELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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Vaccines Effective Against New Coronavirus Strain: German Health Minister

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The new virus strain “has no impact on the vaccines”, said German Health Minister.

European Union experts believe existing vaccines against coronavirus are effective against the new fast-spreading strain identified in Britain, Germany’s health minister said Sunday.

“According to everything we know so far” the new strain “has no impact on the vaccines”, which remain “just as effective”, Jens Spahn told public broadcaster ZDF, citing “talks among experts of European authorities”.

Spahn was referring especially to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is already being administered in countries including the US and UK and which is on the brink of receiving approval from the European Medicines Agency.

A health ministry spokesman said the EU experts’ meeting had taken place on Sunday and included representatives of Berlin’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for public health.

A number of EU nations have banned air travel from Britain in response to the new strain, while France said it would block people arriving from the UK and all freight unless it is unaccompanied.

https://network20news.com/international/21/12/2020/vaccines-effective-against-new-coronavirus-strain-german-health-minister/HELP US SPREAD GOOD NEWS!

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