“We will maintain the injection gap for the two doses of the Pfizer vaccine at three to four weeks,” said Health Minister Olivier Véran during a press conference on Tuesday.
Olivier Véran: “Nous ne touchons pas au délai” entre les injections des deux doses du vaccin pic.twitter.com/ZekSHWrudg
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) January 26, 2021
Whether to elongate the timetable between the two doses became a pressing question in European countries after Pfizer-BioNTech warned of delays in their vaccine supplies.
The French government had considered following in the footsteps of countries like the UK and Denmark and increasing the period between the two doses to six weeks (or 12 in the UK) in order to be able to give more people their first injection with current stocks.
France's health authority Haute Autorité de Santé said earlier this week that spacing out the two injections by six weeks was “an option to consider” as it would permit “an acceleration of administering the first dose to the most vulnerable groups” in the country.
But the health minister said the risks were too big.
“We are. . . facing a period of the unknown and uncertainty, and I have therefore made the decision based on the security of the validated data,” he said.
France has drastically sped up its Covid-19 vaccination scheme since it kicked off with sluggish pace late December, and the country has already exceeded its January goal of 1 million vaccinated persons.
Currently the vaccine programme is open to over 75s, people with serious underlying health conditions, healthcare workers over 50 (or who have health conditions) and residents and staff of nursing homes with the next group – people aged 65-74 – due to open up in February.
If all goes to plan, the whole country will be vaccinated by August, the health minister previously said.