France approves antibody therapy for high-risk Covid cases

French health authorities have approved the use of an antibody treatment made by AstraZeneca for high-risk people who show resistance to vaccines against coronavirus.

   A woman is vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19.
A woman is vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19. The French approval of the new antibody treatment is for use in vaccine-resistant adults only. Ludovic MARIN / AFP

On Friday night, independent public health body HAS (Haute Autorité de santé) announced “a greenlight for the preventive use of Evusheld… for patients with a very high-risk of contracting a severe form of Covid-19”.

Evusheld, developed by the British-Swedish pharma company, this week received emergency-use authorisation in the United States for adults and children aged 12 and above.

The French approval is for adults only.

Evusheld, which is made from a combination of two monoclonal antibodies, is administered in two injections.

Monoclonal antibodies — which recognise a specific molecule of the target virus or bacteria — are synthetic versions of natural antibodies.

Unlike most other Covid treatments, which are given to already hospitalised patients to prevent serious illness, Evusheld is for people who have yet to be infected but may not mount an adequate immune response.

HAS warned of cardiovascular risks identified during clinical trials and recommended the drug not be given to cases with two or more risk factors such as diabetes and obesity.

On Saturday, 53,720 positive Covid-19 cases were identified in the previous 24 hours, compared with 51,624 the previous Saturday, according to the French public health authority.


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France extends second Covid vaccine boosters to over 60s

The French government has announced an extension of the second booster programme for the Covid vaccine to over 60s, as well as those with a medical condition.

France extends second Covid vaccine boosters to over 60s

Previously offered only to over 80s and those with a medical condition, the programme will now be extended to those aged 60 and over, health minister Olivier Véran announced on Thursday, reaching an extra 500,000 people.

He told RTL: “We are opening the second booster to people aged 60 and over, six months after their first booster.”

The change comes into effect immediately, although the second booster shot can only be given once six months has passed since the first booster.

As ever, there is no need to wait for an invitation, if you fit the criteria you can book your appointment directly with a pharmacy, GP or vaccine centre.

A second booster is entirely voluntary, and will not be required to keep ‘fully vaccinated’ status for those in the eligible groups.

Those who qualify for the second booster shot are now

  • Anyone aged 60 and over
  • Anyone under the age of 60 who has a chronic or severe illness including cancer patients, those with a compromised immune system and people living with chronic conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure or a respiratory condition. Find the full list here.

EXPLAINED Who qualifies for a second Covid vaccine booster shot?

The Haute Autorité de Santé, France’s medical regulator, considers that extending second boosters to the entire population is not “relevant” at this stage.