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HEALTH

Moderna vaccine will be used in areas of France worst-hit by Covid-19

France's health minister said on Sunday that more than 50,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine from US-based Moderna, newly authorised in Europe, would be ready for use this week in hard-hit regions.

Moderna vaccine will be used in areas of France worst-hit by Covid-19
Photo: AFP

Olivier Véran told Europe 1 radio that after arriving in France on Monday, the vaccine would be sent to towns and cities with the highest virus circulation, largely in eastern France – from Strasbourg on the German border to Nice on the Mediterranean.

Coming on top of ongoing distribution of Pfizer-BioNTech shots, the Moderna doses would reach vaccination centres by Wednesday, Véran added.

The health ministry said in a statement that almost eight million doses of Moderna's vaccine would arrive in France by July.

Like the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, it takes two injections spaced out over several weeks for Moderna's version to reach maximum effectiveness.

It poses fewer logistical challenges however as it requires storage only at -20C rather than around -80C for Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine.

After fierce criticism of the government for a halting start to its campaign, Veran said that by the end of the weekend over 100,000 people would have been vaccinated.

Neighbouring Germany has already topped half a million, while Britain says it is injecting 200,000 per day.

 

Several areas of eastern France re reporting worrying high levels of Covid-19 cases and increasing pressure on hospitals. An earlier curfew of 6pm – 6am has now been extended to 23 départements.

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ENVIRONMENT

High pollen counts predicted in France due to heatwave

Pollen from highly allergenic ragweed plant is expected to peak earlier this year, as a result of high temperatures.

High pollen counts predicted in France due to heatwave

Ragweed pollen (ambroisie) is expected to spread earlier this year across many parts of France, particularly in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.

The National Aerobiological Surveillance Network (NASN) announced on Tuesday that the Lyon region has reached a critical threshold of ragweed pollen in the air to begin causing allergic reactions in sensitive people. The peak for the concentration of pollen in the air is expected for the end of August, which would be in approximately 20 days.

While the risk of allergic reaction is highest in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes currently, particularly in areas like northern Isère, Drôme, Ardèche and southern Rhône, the plant has spread across different regions in France. Up to 15 percent of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes could experience some level of allergic reaction from the plant, as it is highly allergenic, according to Anses.

It can also be found in Burgundy, Franche-Comté, New Aquitaine, Occitanie, as well as the north of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.

However, in contrast, ragweed is typically neither found in the Northern and Western parts of the country, nor along the Mediterranean coast.

The high pollen counts are expected approximately one week early this year due to the high temperatures seasonal temperatures.

Ragweed pollen can cause runny noses, stinging eyes and even breathing difficulties in people with an allergy, said Samuel Monnier, engineer at the NASN, to BFMTV.

If you have a ragweed allergy, consider consulting a doctor or allergist to pre-empt or treat the symptoms, recommends Monnier. Residents in regions where the pollen count is high might also consider drying clothes inside rather than outside, in order to keep the pollen from sticking to clothing. 

The plant is considered particularly invasive, and many local authorities have put into place systems to remove it when spotted.  In order to report the presence of ragweed, you can go to the website signalement-ambroisie.fr or download the smartphone application “Signalement-Ambroisie.”

If you’re sensitive to pollen, you can keep up with the interactive pollen count maps across France by going to the website www.pollens.fr/

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