France will not halt use of AstraZeneca vaccine, says health minister

France will not halt use of AstraZeneca vaccine, says health minister
French health minister Olivier Véran giving his regular Thursday health briefing. Photo; Ludovic Marin/AFP
France will continue to use AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine, the health minister said on Thursday after several European nations halted its use due to concerns over blood clots.

Denmark, Iceland and Norway suspended AstraZeneca vaccinations and Italy halted a batch of the jabs, but Olivier Véran said France’s medicines agency had advised him against similar action.

It had urged him to follow the EU drug regulator’s ruling that AstraZeneca was still safe to use.

“There is no need to suspend AstraZeneca,” Véran said during the regular Thursday health briefing, adding that just 30 people had developed blood clots out of 5 million people in Europe given the AstraZeneca injection.

“The upside of vaccinations at this stage outweighs the risks.”

France is scrambling to boost its vaccination rollout in the hope of avoiding a third lockdown.

Veran said the daily average of new infections appeared stable for France as a whole, but added the figure hid huge regional disparities.

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The greater Paris Île-de-France region, the northern region of Hauts-de’France and the southern Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur were the main hotspots, he said.

Daily numbers of admissions into intensive care in the Paris region were now so high that hospital capacity is under severe pressure, with non-essential operations cancelled.

More than 1,000 patients are now in intensive care in the region, a number that could reach 1,500 by the end of March – a “critical level” – and very close to the worst numbers seen during the second wave of Covid, Véran said.

Authorities were therefore preparing to evacuate “dozens or even hundreds” of intensive care patients away from the capital and its suburbs to other regions.

Nationwide there were now more than 4,000 people in intensive care, up from 3,555 at the start of the month.

“The situation is tense and worrying,” Veran said. “We do not know when the worst will be over, or how bad it will get.”

Meanwhile, the health ministry said nearly 20,000 pharmacies would join the vaccination drive.

The fire service and the army are also being drafted in larger numbers to help following a call from Prime Minister Jean Castex for “national mobilisation”.

France lags behind major European neighbours for shots administered due to a shortage of doses amid complaints about bureaucracy, although Wednesday saw a new record with 286,000 people injected, added Véran.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had come into contact with an infected person, his ministry announced, meaning he would self-isolate for the next week.

He met counterparts from Germany, Egypt and Jordan on Thursday and held talks with US climate change emissary John Kerry on Wednesday.
 


Member comments

  1. Apparently, they aren’t the only side affects, with cases of ; blindness, seizures, miscarriage, death and so on , being logged on the UK side effect website. Surely if you are young you will be looking at the risk of dying from Covid ( minuscule) and the risk of potential side effects – not sure I’d go there if I was them until far more is known.

    1. I think this is a misunderstanding of, and incomplete knowledge of disease incidence and how to evaluate risk. For example, for blood clots (thrombosis) and just looking at DVT (deep vein thrombosis) without complications, the ‘natural’ overall incidence is something of the order of 45-117 per 100,000 person-years. [https://europepmc.org/article/pmc/pmc4624298]
      Given that about 23million doses of the AZ vaccine have been administered – mostly as single doses to different individuals and this has taken place over about 3 months :-
      A rough calculation shows that at the lower end, 2588 cases of DVT would have occurred regardless among 23m individuals in 3 months even before the arrival of Covid vaccine. [23m/100,000/4 x 45]. Five cases of thrombosis were reported among 23m vaccinees and then speculatively blamed on the vaccine. …Do you see the difficulty in being sure of a cause-and-effect.? You need to put it in its wider context.
      The same applies to looking at the other diseases you quote.
      The vaccine is as safe as crossing the road. Relax.
      Kind regards.

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