Those under 55 who have already been vaccinated with a first dose of AstraZeneca will be offered a different vaccine for the 2nd dose, health authorities announced on Friday, as the executive hopes to curb the third wave of the epidemic of Covid-19.
The High Authority for Health (HAS) formalized this new rule on Friday morning, deemed “totally logical” by the Minister of Health Olivier Véran for the more than 500,000 people concerned, of which he himself is a part, since he had received his first injection in early February as a healthcare professional.
Concretely, a person under 55 vaccinated with AstraZeneca will have a booster with a messenger RNA vaccine, either that of Pfizer / BioNTech, or that of Moderna, indicated the HAS.
For the health authorities, it is a question of solving a new puzzle caused by the vaccine of the Anglo-Swedish laboratory, whose chaotic course is linked in particular to the risk of atypical thromboses (blood clots) that it causes in an exceptional way.
On February 2, just after its authorization, it was first reserved for people under 65 in France, for lack of data on its effectiveness in the elderly. A month later, its use was extended to seniors.
– Record of bites –
But in mid-March, the vaccine was suspended a few days after reports in Europe of thrombosis. In the meantime, France had decided on March 19 to inject it only to people over 55 years old, because these extremely rare thromboses have mainly been observed in younger subjects. A solution therefore remained to be found for 533,000 people under the age of 55, mostly caregivers, having received a first dose of AstraZeneca.
Other countries have also set age limits, but without necessarily choosing the same. AstraZeneca, for example, is reserved for people over 30 in the United Kingdom, where it has been used extensively and where the vaccination campaign is much more advanced, to over 60s in Germany, or 65 in Sweden.
More than three months after the start of the vaccine campaign, the Minister of Health welcomed a record broken Thursday, with 437,000 bites in a single day, which also saw France exceed the 10 million first doses injected .
While around 12 million doses must be delivered to France in April, Olivier Véran recalled the next caps set by the government: 20 million first doses injected in mid-May, 30 million in mid-June, in opening vaccination to 60-69 year olds in mid-April.
– Not yet the peak in the hospital –
The pace of the campaign is a crucial issue, at a time when France is facing a violent third epidemic wave, marked by a very strong influx of patients in the hospital and in the intensive care units, and by a number of deaths spread across the country. increase last week (2,032 against 1,842 the previous week), according to the last weekly epidemiological bulletin of Public Health France.
Emmanuel Macron was to visit the factory of the Delpharm group on Friday, which started this week, for the first time in France, to bottle Pfizer / BioNtech vaccines.
After four days of school at home and on the eve of two weeks of unified and confined school holidays, the executive is watching for the first signs of a slowdown in the circulation of the virus. In its weekly bulletin, Public Health France noted that the increase in the number of new cases, which has lasted for “four weeks”, was “less marked” last week, with a declining positivity rate (from 8.2% 7.5%) as well.
“The efforts of the French will pay off”, assured the Minister of Health, who prefers to speak cautiously of “tendency towards stabilization” rather than of “ebb”.
But the “health peak” in the hospital, “we did not reach it, it is quite normal since, unfortunately, the health peak follows the epidemic peak”.
The pressure on the resuscitation services remains very strong, with more than 5,700 Covid-19 patients welcomed on Thursday, above the normal capacities of the country, a situation which forces hospitals to deprogram less urgent operations to deal with the most in a hurry. At present, nearly 8,000 resuscitation beds are available in France.