France approves Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine for use

France's national health authority on Friday approved the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine for people 18 and older, following EU approval on Wednesday.

France approves Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine for use
The Moderna vaccine can now be administered in France. Photo: AFP

The decision clears the way for a second option in an inoculation campaign that has been assailed by critics as lagging far behind those of its neighbours.

It added that the Moderna shot could also be used for people over 75, since data so far suggest an 86 percent effective rate for the elderly, compared with 94 percent efficiency for younger adults.

The Moderna vaccine presents fewer logisical challenges than the BioNTech vaccine, since it doesn't have to be stored at very cold temperatures.

The government's “vaccine czar,” Alain Fischer, told BFM radio that the first deliveries of the Moderna shots “should occur in the coming days, or the second half of January at the latest”.

After a slow start to its vaccine campaign, the French government has now laid out plans to speed things up and expand the programme.

In total 45,000 people have ben vaccinated in the last five days – including health workers, emergency workers, home helps and residents of the country's Ehpad nursing homes.

From next week, anyone over 75 will be able to make an appointment online or by phone to receive their injection.

READ ALSO Latest: How France plans its Covid-19 vaccine rollout


Graphic: French health ministry

France had always planned to begin its campaign with the BioNTech vaccine, adding the Moderna and Oxford/AstraZeneca shots as they received approval.

France has received 1.5 million doses of vaccines so far and will receive another 500,000 each week throughout January and February. This will rise to 1 million a week in March.

Authorities reported 21,703 new daily cases and 277 deaths on Thursday, bringing the French death toll to 66,841.

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French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.