Weekly French Covid thread.
Moment of truth for Macron when he addresses the nation at 8pm tonight (for 1st time since he announced a 2nd lockdown on 28 Oct). Will he abandon the jumble of partial, regional lockdowns and go for full “confinement” as UK variant runs riot? 1/12
The figures are grim – worse than the start of Oct lockdown (see chart by @nicolasberrod). The IC population is 5,072 - and 3,036 then. But stats are regionally mixed. Parts of Paris area have an incidence rate of over 1,000. Other places are fine. 2/12
Macron has been determined since May to keep schools open. Can he continue to do so, when many schools are having to close as Covid cases break out? In greater Paris the overall incidence rate is 644 (cases per 1,000 pop over 7 days) Among 15-19-yr-olds it’s 850. 3/12
The scientific advice is also contradictory. Some senior doctors are warning of “triage” in ICU by mid-April (ie allowing some patients to die) unless there is full, strict lockdown. Others say this is alarmist and lockdown creates crises of its own. 4/12
My guess is Macron will close schools by bringing forward the hols. He will increase the départements (now 19) under “lockdown light”. Restrictions in those areas will be tightened. Travel between regions made harder. BUT he may go for psychological shock of full lockdown. 5/12
As I wrote in The Local yesterday, the President’s decision to refuse a pre-emptive lockdown against the UK variant on 29 Jan was v. popular. He’s been trying to find a “third way” since, without success. Time to admit failure and go for broke? 6/12
The stats for the last week are alarming. Intensive care cases have leaped from 4,651 to 5,072, the highest figure since May. IC beds are 90% occupied but Macron is likely to announce emergency measures to create several thousand more tonight. 7/12
Deaths have started to rise after falling for weeks. There were an average 347 deaths a day in last 7 days, compared to 248 last week. The running Covid total is now 95,337. The av. age of deaths, and the very sick, is said to be growing younger but there are no recent stats 8/12
The daily average of cases rose in last 7 days to 36,045, after 29,280 last week. There appeared to be a downward shift in last 3 days but last night’s figure of 30,707 was undercounted because of an admin problem. Tonight’s therefore is likely to be huge (but misleading). 9/12
Reasons to be hopeful: the French vaccine programme is now humming along. Unnoticed by much of the UK media, which still talks of a glacial or chaotic rollout in France, the daily first jabbing rate is now approaching that in Britain (which has fallen to allow 2nd jabs) 10/12
Thus…343,000 shots in France yesterday, including 273,000 first shots. Over 1m in 3 days last Wed-Fri. I expect that will be exceeded this week.
Fr. should exceed by 1m its target of 10m first shots by 15 April and hit its targets of 20m by 15 May and 30m by 15 June. 11/12
Hang in there.

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More from @john_lichfield

31 Mar
April will be the cruellest month. That, in effect, is Macron's warning but also promise to France tonight. One more big effort in the next month and the vax campaign will then start to kick in and save us.
Present restrictions are not enough. We will lose control unless we act. But no panic. For next month a big new effort is necessary.
Reinforcements for intensive care. Icu already lifted from 5,000 beds 70 7,000 will be extended to 10,000. Existing lockdown light in 19 départements will be extended from Saturday to all metropolitan France.
Read 11 tweets
31 Mar
Presdt Macron is addressing the nation in 40 minutes or so. What I understand is – and this may not be gospel – he will announce an extension of the existing “lockdown light” covering 19 départements to whole of France. In other words, Easter travel is cancelled for everyone. 1/3
Schools may close for almost a month, by extending the school holidays. From 26 April, they will apparently resume for primary and nursery schools but will go on line for colleges and lycées until 3 May. Unemployment pay will be given to parents who have to stay at home 2/3
Intensive care capacity to be boosted by mobilising medical and nursing students and retired health workers. Vaccination programme to be accelerated so that the 60-plus are eligible for jabs in mid-April and 50-plus in mid-May. 3/3
Read 4 tweets
27 Mar
Weekly French vaccination thread

Good news, v good news, on the French vaccine programme. Bad news is also available, including a devastating surge of the UK Covid variant.
But it is NO LONGER TRUE to say, as much media habitually says, that Fr. vax prog is shambolic etc 1/12
Since I was one of the first to complain in boring detail about the poor vax numbers in France 2 months ago, I am delighted to be able to point to the extraordinary jab tally of the last 3 days. Over 1,000,000 doses were given in 72hrs, including 923,820 1st vaccinations. 2/12
The daily average of shots given in France for the last 3 days was 351,581. This is still a long way behind the daily peaks achieved in the UK but not so far behind the current UK daily av. of around 570,000. France should continue to improve in the weeks ahead. 3/12
Read 12 tweets
25 Mar
Grim news at the weekly French Covid press conference. There were 45,000 new cases in France today – a 50% jump on the current daily average. Three new départements will go into “lockdown lite” from tomorrow: Nièvre, Rhône and Aube. 1 /4
The heath minister Olivier Véran says the Paris area, the north (Hauts-de-France) and the Nice-Cannes area are worst effected by this new surge in cases caused almost entirely by the UK variant of Covid-19. The situation in these areas, is “extremely worrying”, he says. 2/4
Over 1,400 acute care beds are now occupied in Ile de France (greater Paris). Emergency effort is under way to lift the number available (usually 1,000) to 2,250 by mobilising all public and private health resources. Up to 80% of scheduled operations will have to be postponed 3/4
Read 4 tweets
24 Mar
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
Read 12 tweets
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

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