Anti-Covid vaccine: why 200 million doses for 67 million French people?

After the outcry over the lack of a mask, the government probably doesn’t want to be accused of not having planned enough anymore. In total, France will therefore have “With a potential of 200 million doses (of vaccines against Covid-19) which will enable 100 million people to be vaccinated since it requires two injections”, assured Jean Castex during the conference on Thursday 3 December.

→ INVESTIGATION. Covid-19: from production to injection, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine route

This significant allocation for France was obtained thanks to six contracts signed with laboratories (read the benchmarks) on behalf of the twenty-seven by the European Union. “Our first objective was to ensure that France will have enough vaccines when the time comes. This is the reason why we did it well in advance, clarified the Prime Minister. France proposed last spring to its European partners to acquire these vaccines together, to weigh more heavily in negotiations with laboratories and to avoid the logic of “first come, first served” “

The authorization of the European Medicines Agency conditions the delivery

But these contracts correspond only to pre-purchases: only vaccines which have obtained a marketing authorization at European level will actually be delivered and therefore invoiced.

→ READ. Covid-19: the vaccine, a major diplomatic weapon

Still, the margin taken by France in its pre-order of doses questions. It would indeed take 134 million doses to vaccinate 67 million French people (at the rate of two injections). Or, according to this very optimistic calculation (about half of French people say they agree to be vaccinated), 60 million unused doses.

In reality, orders take into account the risk of loss. From a single vial of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine for example, the doctor can perform 5 injections. However, when this bottle arrives in January in establishments welcoming the elderly, it will have gone from a temperature – 80 ° C to 2 or 8 ° C.

A risk of losses

It can therefore be stored in a conventional refrigerator but not more than 4 days (a day having already been lost in transport). “There may be a little loss, explains Brigitte Autran, member of the scientific committee on Covid-19 vaccines. Because if all the doses are not used in the allotted time, it is out of the question to refreeze them, it is the same principle as for food. “

These doses will then be discarded, which raises the question of their destruction, subject to special rules as for all drugs. If the government has ordered many doses, it is also to ensure that it has the maximum amount of reserves to vaccinate as many people as possible.

Because to curb the pandemic, we will have to rely on collective immunity. However, as Jacques Battistoni, president of the general practitioners’ union, points out, “Today vaccines seem to have an individual benefit, by preventing people from developing severe forms of the disease, but to date, the benefit of vaccines on virus transmission has not been demonstrated.”


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