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COVID-19 VACCINES

EU could achieve Covid-19 immunity by mid-July, says vaccine chief

The EU's population of 450 million could achieve Covid-19 herd immunity by mid-July, the EU's vaccine chief Thierry Breton told French newspaper Le Parisien.

EU could achieve Covid-19 immunity by mid-July, says vaccine chief
Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner in charge of the vaccine production task force, said the EU could achieve Covid-19 immunity by mid-July. Photo: Emil Helms / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP

Breton, the EU commissioner in charge of the vaccine task force, had already suggested at the end of March that herd immunity would be possible in the EU by July 14th, as incoming jabs are expected to speed up the continent’s sluggish vaccine rollout.

On Monday, he confirmed his prediction to Le Parisien: “We now have good visibility of what is happening, from the production of vaccines to the distribution and tests,” he said.

“Fourteen million doses were delivered to the EU in January, 28 million in February and 60 million in March. For the next quarter, we will increase to 100 million in April, May and June. Then 120 million in the summer, and we will reach a rate of 200 million from September,” he said.

In the second half of the year as a whole, the EU will have received over 800 million doses, according to Breton.

READ ALSO: Europe’s slow vaccine rollout is ‘prolonging the pandemic’ as infections surge

The note of optimism came after several European countries have reimposed restrictions in an attempt to halt soaring Covid case numbers, and the World Health Organisation slammed Europe’s vaccine rollout as “unacceptably slow” on Thursday, saying that it was prolonging the pandemic.

“Vaccines present our best way out of the pandemic…However, the rollout of these vaccines is unacceptably slow,” WHO director for Europe Hans Kluge said in a statement.

So far, only about 10 percent of the region’s total population have received one vaccine dose, and four percent have completed a full vaccine series, the organisation said.

The WHO’s European region comprises 53 countries and territories and includes Russia and several Central Asian nations.

But when it comes to the EU’s slow vaccine rollout, Breton blamed the AstraZeneca laboratory.

“If we had received 100 percent of the AstraZeneca vaccines we were contractually owed, today the EU would be at the same level as the UK in terms of vaccination,” he said. “I can confirm that this hole is due entirely to AstraZeneca’s delivery failures.”

READ ALSO: Questions about possible AstraZeneca jab side-effects linger

On Monday, Johnson & Johnson said it would start delivering its single-shot Covid vaccine to Europe on April 19th, giving the continent a boost in its vaccination drive.

The EU has signed a firm order for 200 million J&J doses and an option for 200 million more.

Member comments

  1. Typical French bullshit:

    “If we had received 100 percent of the AstraZeneca vaccines we were contractually owed, today the EU would be at the same level as the UK in terms of vaccination,” he said. “I can confirm that this hole is due entirely to AstraZeneca’s delivery failures.”

    The EU was simply late, couldn’t make a decision, didn’t put any effort (or money) into the Oxford vaccine’s development as the UK did, then having belatedly put in an order didn’t read or understand the contract they signed, again couldn’t make a decision to allow the vaccine to be used, then stockpiled what they had (which is probably still the case), then threatened illegally to ban exports and they’re still in a mess.

    “The EU’s population of 450 million could achieve Covid-19 herd immunity by mid-July” – only in your dreams Mr Breton!

    The sclerotic EU administration are useless and the whole debacle is nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics. Pathetic, dangerous and will come back to haunt them.

    That’s the truth.

    1. A perfect summary of what has happened. Political posturing by the EU Commission has left them in this dire situation, and rather than take responsibility for their actions they want to blame someone else. I feel very sad for the people that have died from their mistakes.

  2. I don’t see how more deliveries from AZ to the EU would have made any difference since it was widely publicised at the time that the EU wasn’t even using up the deliveries they had received. This is all political double-speak which is pretty shameful in the midst of a lethal pandemic.

  3. This pandemic has reinforced my belief that politicians and these global organisations are not to be believed FULL STOP.

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COVID-19

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

With a sharp rise in reported cases in recent weeks, France appears to be in the middle of a new wave of Covid infections - so what measures are the government taking to control it?

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

Recorded case numbers in France are now over 50,000 a week, and have been since the beginning of June – this is a long way short of the 350,000 weekly cases recorded in January but still the highest since May and representing a steady an increase of 57 percent on the previous week.

Hospital admissions are also on the rise – standing at 707 admissions on Friday, June 24th compared to 400 daily admissions just two weeks earlier.

So what is the French government doing about it?

Since March, almost all Covid-related restrictions have been lifted in France – the health pass is no longer required for everyday activities such as visiting a bar or going to the gym and face masks are now merely advised in all indoor locations. Only hospitals and other health establishments such as nursing homes still have mandatory rules on face masks and health passes.

For international travel, fully vaccinated arrivals from most countries – including the UK, US and the whole of the EU – need only to show proof of vaccination, while unvaccinated travellers need to show proof of a recent negative Covid test – full details HERE.

Health pass

A proposed bill from the health ministry that was leaked to French media talks about re-imposing some form of pass sanitaire (health pass) to get numbers under control.

Some caveats to add here is that the document is only a proposal at this stage and the government has explicitly rules out – for the moment – reintroducing the vaccine pass. The health pass can be used to show either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test, so it is less restrictive for the unvaccinated.

The document suggests re-introducing a health pass for travel – both to and from France – not for everyday activities like going to a café.

Testing and contact tracing

The bill also proposes extending the software involved in contact tracing and the Covid testing programme until March 2023, although this is described as a ‘precaution’.

Testing remains available on a walk-in basis at most French pharmacies and by appointment at health centres and medical labs. Tests are free for fully-vaccinated residents of France who have a carte vitale. Those are only visiting France, who are not registered in the French health system or who are not vaccinated have to pay – prices are capped at €22 for an antigen test and €54 for a PCR test.

READ ALSO How tourists in France can get a Covid test

Masks

The Minister of Health, Brigitte Bourguignon, said she is “asking the French to wear masks on public transport once again” during an interview with RTL on Monday, June 27th. She also recommended wearing a mask in all other enclosed crowded areas, as a “civic gesture.” However, she did not refer to the request as a government mandated obligation.

At present masks are not required, but are recommended, especially on busy services where it is impossible to practice social distancing.

Epidemiologist Pascal Crépey said: “In crowded trains, the risk of being in the presence of infected people is high. It would be a good idea for the population to wear the mask, to protect especially the most fragile and avoid massive infection rates.”

Local measures

French local authorities also have the power to impose certain types of restrictions if their area has a particularly high rate of infections.

At present, none have done so, but Nice mayor Christian Estrosi has spoken in favour of possibly bringing back the vaccine pass over the summer.

Second booster shots

A second booster shot of the Covid vaccine is now available to all over 60s and anyone who has a long-term medical condition or who is otherwise at risk from Covid.

It is recommended that the government increase public messaging advising those in high risk groups to get the second booster shot. The medical regular HAS has advised combining second booster shots with the seasonal flu vaccine campaign in September and October.

France is not, at present, considering widening the campaign to the entire popular, but the EU’s vaccine commissioner Thierry Breton says that if necessary, there would be enough doses to cover the whole population.

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