Weekly French vaccination thread.
What a confusing week. Confusion is bad, especially in France where anti-vax feeling is rife. And yet I’m going (for once) to defend France's vax effort from the more hysterical criticism (especially in the UK). 1/12
Despite a 3 day emergency pause in AstraZeneca shots, France kept up a respectable pace of jabbing this week – an average 168,407 first jabs a day, enough to hit is target of 10m by mid-April. The use of doses received from the EU, 50% at the end of Jan, is now around 80%.
Despite the howling mockery, France's decision on Friday to limit AZ shots to over-55s (for now) makes sense. Incidence of v. v. rare but grave types of blood clots (ie not all clots) has increased between 5 and 8 times amongst under-55’s in Europe who have taken AZ. 3/12
The Haute Autorité de Santé ruled that there was no reason to stop using AZ but it was prudent, for now, to bar under-55’s (who are mostly not due to be vaxxed until May). The only people affected will be health/care workers under 55, for whom other vaxes are available. 4/12
Cue spluttering mockery in UK media (but also from some in France). "Tee hee. France once banned AZ for over 75's. It’s now banning it for under 55’s." Yes. It’s confusing. Yes, confusion is bad. Yes, communication could be better
But what’s the alternative? Suppress facts? 5/12
Some of the reporting in Britain and assertions made by UKG on this issue are frankly dishonest. It is claimed that the incidence of clotting after AZ jabs is “less than in normal population”. But that’s for all clots, not the v. rare and grave clots that are causing concern 6/12
According to yesterday’s H.A.S. report, there have been 25 post-AZ incidents of 2 rare clot conditions, including brain clots, in Europe (inc. UK) leading to 9 deaths. There have been 20,000,000 AZ doses given. That’s v. v. few cases but it’s 5 or 8 times the “normal” rate. 7/12
Much UK commentary suggests it’s dangerous and somehow anti-British to cast doubts on AZ . It’s unfortunate that concerns have arisen but it would be more dangerous to public vaccine confidence in Europe to cover them up (which is what some UK media, even BBC, seem to want) 8/12
Back to this week’s figures. There certainly was a dip in France’s vax rate because of the pause in AZ jabs. But thanks in part to a big effort again last weekend, the stats are reasonable. As of Thurs. night, Fr. had given 5,748,698 1st jabs and 2,393,568 2nd jabs. 9/12
In terms of 1st jabs this was 1,178,850 in 7 days or 168, 407 a day. To reach the govt target of 10m 1st jabs by 15 April, France now needs to keep up a rate of 151,832 a day. I suspect the target will be EXCEEDED. Published figures suggest use of doses is now over 80%
The next govt targets – 20m by mid-May and 30m by end of June - will be much tougher, especially if the AZ ban for the under-55’s is maintained. But big supplies of Pfizer doses plus many more Moderna and the first Johnson and Johnson 1-dose vaxes are expected in April. 11/12
It can still be done – and given the disturbing surge of UK variant Covid cases in some parts of France – it MUST be done. 12/12

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More from @john_lichfield

18 Mar
EU meds agency says AstraZeneca is effective and safe to use - but there MAY be a very rare connection with deep vein blood clots which should be examined further. French PM Castex is giving a presser in 30mins. Will he annnounce a a resumption of AZ jabs?
Le Figaro seems to have the answer on how soon AZ jabs will restart in France. PM Jean Castex will publicly have an AZ shot (even though he doesn't qualify by age or illness) tomorrow afternoon.
But what else will Castex announce at the top of the hour? It seemed certain yesterday that the greater Paris area and much of N.France would be placed in a weekend only lockdown (at least). Now rumours suggest that Pres Macron has opted for something much more complicated.
Read 21 tweets
17 Mar
Weekly French Covid thread.
Big decisions are expected at a health defence council chaired by Pres Macron this morning. A weekend lockdown in the greater Paris area, Ile-de-France? Probably. Maybe even a complete lockdown of the capital/ surrounding area for 2 to 3 weeks. 1/12
Macron has been postponing the decision on Paris (for political reasons mostly) since late Feb but can no longer delay. Ile de France now has the highest incidence rate in the country – 418.9 cases per 100,000 people in 7 days to 13 March. 2/12
Intensive care in the Paris area is overwhelmed – 1,117 beds occupied by C19 patients last night, despite transfers elsewhere. Normal total IC beds for ALL cases is 1,000.
The betting is on a weekend lockdown (like those in force in the Nice area and the north). 3/12
Read 12 tweets
13 Mar
Weekly French vaccination thread.
Good news/bad news.
The good news includes the fact that France administered 1,500,000 shots in 7 days to Thursday, including 1,170,000 1st doses. This is +200,000 shots a day on average, after an av. 76,000 in 1st 10 weeks of the roll-out
Other good news (for me anyway), I received a 1st AstraZeneca jab at my doc's surgery in Calvados yesterday. Slight fever today but no real sickness. The process took 40 minutes: a thorough Q and A with a locum doctor, a jab by a nurse and 15 mins wait before I could leave.
Other good news (for everyone), the EU and France have approved a fourth type of vaccine – Janssen or Johnson and Johnson – which will be available from next month. This is a one-shot only vaccine and easy to store. It should be offered through GP’s and pharmacies. 3/12
Read 13 tweets
27 Feb
UPDATE thread on France’s anti-Covid vax programme.
Overall, it’s still frustratingly slow. The AstraZeneca roll-out has been very poor – largely because of rejection of the AZ jab by health workers. BUT that may soon change… 1/10
The government is planning belatedly an “AZ-is-wonderful” P.R. campaign based on Scots findings that the vax is 90% effective and fine for old people. As a result, the Fr. health supervisory board may soon recommend that Fr. lifts its ban on AZ for the over 65’s. 2/10
That would be a game-changer, with 6m AstraZeneca doses due to arrive in France in the coming month and over 9m in April. But Macron and his government must carry a large part of the blame for what they now call primly AZ’s “image deficit” in France. 3/10
Read 10 tweets
25 Feb
The French PM Jean Castex will give a press conference in a few mins on what he plans to do about the dozen or so départements (counties) where Covid variants are surging. Weekend lockdowns have already been imposed in the Nice area and Dunkirk. Paris area next? Not yet it seems
It seems the French PM will probably announce “consultations” with local governments in the départements concerned – a broad stripe to Paris from the Pas de Calais, plus Moselle in Lorraine. Weekend lockdowns and other new restrictions may follow
Health situation is deteriorating, Castex says. Over 30,000 cases nationwide yesterday for the first time since November. British variant is now half the cases in France - creating a new epidemic because more contagious than the original.
Read 14 tweets
24 Feb
French Covid thread.
It’s getting complicated. Parts of France are doing fairly well. A dozen départements – in the north, the Paris area, Lorraine and the Nice area – are suffering sharp spikes in cases. Dunkirk has been placed under weekend lockdown today, following Nice 1/11
Covid variants (mostly the UK one) are responsible for this surge. To know which 13 départements are worst affected - a daily average of more than 250 cases per 100,000 – look at this map from the wonderful Covidtracker site @GuillaumeRozier. 2/11
The most stricken areas are Dunkirk with 900 cases per 100,000, four times the national average, and the Alpes Maritime department around Nice. Both are going into weekend lockdown for at least 2 weekends from Friday. The PM Jean Castex will announce other measures tomorrow. 3/11
Read 12 tweets

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