Weekly French Covid thread

President Macron has bet his Covid policy - and his chances of re-election - on a double or quits gamble. Having refused a 3rd lock down 2 months ago, he has played for time with a “lockdown lite” covering a third of the French population of 66m 1/12
Is it a lockdown? Can it work? For many the new rules in 16 départements in Paris area, N. Normandy, N.W. France and Alpes Maritimes represent little change. Non-essential shops are closed. Exercise before curfew is unlimited. More office workers are meant to work from home. 2/12
The aim is to hold back UK variant of C19 until vaccination takes effect. In 1st week, acute cases have risen (but not soared) to 4,634, approaching the 4,919 (16 Nov) peak of the 2nd Lockdown. Cases jumped to an av. 29, 280 a day. They halved yesterday but that was a blip 3/12
Here is a graph by Nicolas Berrod of Le Parisien showing the inexorable rise of the 3rd wave of the epidemic now that UK variant represents circa 80% of Covid cases in France. His daily av. is slightly different because it covers another 7-day span. 4/12
Macron refused another full lockdown – even in the four most afflicted areas – because he feared widespread resistance and non-obedience (and probably because he was reluctant to admit his earlier refusal of a 3rd lockdown was an error). 5/12
Reasons to worry. This new “third way” – not quite a lockdown – has proved confusing in its 1st week. It relies on individual responsibility, which may be fraying at the edges (and more than edges). By April, 100% of French cases are likely to be faster-moving UK variant. 6/12
Reasons to be hopeful: Despite the problems with AstraZeneca (ie the clot scare and two-thirds reduction in EU supplies), the French vaccine programme is finally moving into a higher gear. There were 282,000 shots given yesterday, including 240,000 1st shots. 7/12
Macron said yesterday that it was time to vax “morning, noon and night”. Why not before now? Good question. But France IS now using circa 80% of doses and can’t go much faster until bigger supplies arrive. That is about to happen. Pfizer should send 8m doses in next 5 weeks. 8/12
Shots will be open to all plus-70s from this weekend. Big vaccinodromes are planned. The army will help. More AZ doses should start to reach GP’s and pharmacies.
All to the good... but some of this COULD have happened earlier. 9/12
On this week’s figures… Deaths continue to fall largely because of the successful care home vax campaign (90% of residents covered by 1 jab, 60% by 2). There were an average 248 deaths a day in the last week, compared to 267 last week. 10/12
The daily av. of cases rose to 29,280 (even with yesterday’s undercount because of an admin blip) after 25,028 last week. Intensive care occupation rose by 415 beds to 4,634 – which is around 90% of normal capacity. The hospital Covid population rose by 1,392 to 26,786. 11/12
In summary...
It’s a race against time. Vaccinations v the UK variant. The variant is winning (so far) but the vax programme is about to accelerate again.
Hang in there.

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More from @john_lichfield

20 Mar
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
Read 12 tweets
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

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