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COVID-19 VACCINES

France approves new vaccines for Covid Omicron sub-variants

France's health authority said Tuesday it had approved three new vaccines against the prevalent Omicron sub-variants of the Covid-19 virus, in a bid to prevent a jump in infections as colder weather approaches.

France approves new vaccines for Covid Omicron sub-variants
The recently authorized booster vaccine protects against the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and the more recent omicron variants, BA.4 and BA.5. Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

The so-called “bivalent: shots, approved by the European Medicines Agency earlier this month, target the BA.1, BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants, now responsible for the bulk of new cases since the outbreak began worldwide in early 2020.

French authorities are urging at-risk patients — including those over 60 or adults with pre-existing conditions — to get the bivalent vaccines as part of its booster campaign.

“The number of infections has again started rising in the past few days,” the HAS health authority said, noting that the BA.5 sub-variant was causing the most new cases.

The new vaccine targeting the highly contagious BA.4 and BA.5 types is made by Pfizer and BioNTech, while jabs from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are for BA.1.

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COVID-19 VACCINES

More than 100,000 protest Macron’s plan to ‘piss off the unvaccinated’

More than 100,000 people across France protested on Saturday over what they say are government plans to further restrict the rights of the unvaccinated.

More than 100,000 protest Macron's plan to 'piss off the unvaccinated'
Demonstrators hold a banner reading " The youth piss off the vaccine front " during a protest against the health pass on Saturday. Photo: Christophe Archambault/AFP

The protest came only days after French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to “piss off” those refusing the jab.

The turnout was four times higher than the numbers who answered the December 18 call to protest, when 25,500 people marched across the country, according to government estimates.

The protests oppose a planned law that will require individuals to prove they are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus before they can eat out, travel on inter-city trains or attend cultural events.

On Thursday, France’s lower house of parliament passed the controversial bill in a first reading. The government has said it expects the new requirements to be implemented by January 15, although lawmakers in the Senate could now delay the process.

About 18,000 protesters gathered in Paris. Photo: Christophe Archambault/AFP

Interior ministry officials said 105,200 people participated in Saturday’s protests across France, 18,000 of them in the capital Paris, where police reported 10 arrests and three officers slightly injured. Elsewhere there were 24 arrests and seven police officers lightly injured according to the ministry.

Among the larger demonstrations, around 6,000 demonstrators turned out in Toulon, while in Montpellier police used teargas during clashes with protesters.

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France recorded 303,669 new coronavirus cases on Saturday amid mounting pressure on hospitals.

The Paris protesters, many of them unmasked, braved the cold and rain brandishing placards emblazoned with the word “truth” and “No to vaccine passes”.

Others took aim at Macron, using the same coarse language he employed in his attack on people holding out against vaccination earlier in the week.

Macron said Friday that he fully stands by controversial remarks he made on Tuesday, when he vowed to “piss off” people not vaccinated against Covid-19 until they accept shots.

The earthy language and uncompromising approach provoked uproar in French media and from opponents.

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