More flexibility for more speed. While 43,000 new cases of Covid-19 were detected on Saturday, April 10, and more than 5,700 patients were in intensive care, the government is stepping up on vaccination. From Monday April 12, all French people over 55 will be able to benefit from the AstraZeneca product ” without condition », Announced the Minister of Health Olivier Véran.
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A way of trying to speed up the so-called “British” variant, more contagious, more dangerous and now in the majority in France. And to avoid, perhaps, a situation reminiscent of Great Britain at the beginning of the year. ” To stem the transmission of the virus, it is necessary to both speed up vaccination and maintain a containment strategy, recalls Antoine Flahault, epidemiologist at the University of Geneva. The United States, for example, is experiencing an epidemic rebound despite vaccination coverage nearly three times higher. “
Change of course for those under 55
Authorized in early February for caregivers and those suffering from comorbidities without age limit, AstraZeneca’s vaccine was finally restricted to priority people over 55 years of age, on March 19. In question, very rare cases of atypical thrombosis in young people, in connection with the vaccine. In France, the approximately 500,000 people under the age of 55 who had received a first dose before the restriction will benefit from a second injection of a messenger RNA vaccine, therefore Pfizer or Moderna, twelve weeks later.
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As long as the origin of the problem is not clearly identified, the High Authority for Health (HAS) preferred not to perform the second injection with the product from Janssen, the European subsidiary of the American Johnson & Johnson, which is more ‘Close’ to AstraZeneca – both working with the same viral vector technique.
Initially scheduled in France from April 19, Janssen’s vaccine will arrive on Monday April 12. ” This represents 200,000 doses one week ahead of the initial schedule. », Confirms the company. Like AstraZeneca, it will be reserved for people over 55 and can be administered by general practitioners and pharmacists. Note that this vaccine does not require a second injection.
Extension of vaccination with Pfizer and Moderna
Another relaxation to come: from April 16, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will be offered to all French people over 60 years old. For the moment, only people aged 55 to 69 suffering from co-morbidities or all those over 70 years old benefit from it. The spacing between the two doses will also be reviewed, from 21 or 28 days depending on the product, to 42 days for both.
Such an extension had already been recommended by the HAS at the end of January. At the time, she argued that this would make it possible to vaccinate ” at least 700,000 more people in a month “. The government opposed it. In the meantime, the situation in the United Kingdom, where the solution has been adopted, seems to prove its effectiveness. Antoine Flahault recalls that “ longer timescales had been tested in small groups of patients in phase I and II and the immune response was similar to those with shorter timescales “.
More choice for GPs and pharmacies
Finally, faced with the so-called “South African” variant, Olivier Véran confirms that pharmacists and general practitioners in Moselle will be able to inject the Moderna vaccine from the end of April, following a recommendation from the HAS. Preliminary studies show that the AstraZeneca vaccine seems less effective against this form of the coronavirus, which circulates a lot in the department.
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The experiment should be extended to all of France at the end of June. ” A good decision, but late! », Judge Jacques Battistoni, president of the general practitioner union MG France. Until then, some put forward the too strong logistical and conservation constraints to distribute these vaccines in the city. For Gilles Bonnefond, at the head of the union of pharmacists’ unions, the argument does not hold: “ we are used to handling medication and once thawed Pfizer vaccine will keep at refrigerator temperature for five days. “
Who can be vaccinated?
• Under 18 : no vaccine authorized.
• From 18 to 49 years old : only patients at high risk (on chemotherapy, on dialysis, with trisomy 21, etc.) with an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna).
• From 50 to 54 years old : only people at high risk or suffering from comorbidities (diabetes, heart failure, history of stroke, etc.) with an mRNA vaccine.
• Over 55 years old : everyone with AstraZeneca or Janssen vaccines as of Monday, April 12. The vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna remain for the moment reserved for 55-69 year olds at high risk or with comorbidities and for those over 70 years old. From April 16, they will be open to everyone over 60, without restriction. Vaccinations with Pfizer and Moderna are done in vaccination centers, hospitals and nursing homes. General practitioners and pharmacists offer AstraZeneca and soon Janssen.
• Health professionals under 55 receive Pfizer or Moderna. Beyond that, they are eligible for the four available vaccines.