June 24, 2021

Covid-19: France wants to catch up on vaccination


After the enlargement to over 50s on Monday, all adults can now benefit from the appointments left vacant the day before for the next day.

France entered the second phase of its vaccination campaign this week. Thanks to an acceleration in the pace of deliveries, it was extended on Monday to people over the age of 50, with a five-day lead over the initial target.

Since Tuesday, 18-50 year olds without comorbidity can also benefit from appointments left vacant the same day, or the next day until midnight. “Vaccination, however, remains reserved as a priority until June 15 for populations at risk”, specifies the Ministry of Health, which calls on the French to respect the official instructions.

The challenge of this enlargement is in particular to continue to maintain the sustained rate of injections despite the many bridges in May. There were 18.5 million people who received at least one dose of vaccine on the evening of May 11, including 657,000 the same day – a record – and 510,000 the day before. Over the past seven days, the average is 480,000 daily injections. Ascension weekend should only mean a slight slowdown. Indeed, 1.1 million appointments are recorded for the next four days, according to the online reservations platform Doctolib. “The demand for vaccines remains very strong in the country, always greater than the supply”, notes the co-founder of the meeting site, Stanislas Niox-Chateau. As proof, vacant slots offered at the last minute are taken by storm as soon as they are put online.

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Increasing vaccine deliveries

Currently, more than half of daily injections are first doses. At this rate, the target set by the Prime Minister of 20 million French people vaccinated should therefore be reached on May 17. To reach 30 million in mid-June, then to 50% of the French at the beginning of the summer, it will however still be necessary to step up and succeed in vaccinating, according to Doctolib, 800,000 people per day including more than 350,000 first-time injections. . But the conditions seem to be in place to achieve this: demand is strong and deliveries, which are still the main limiting factor today, are constantly increasing.

16 million doses are expected in May, followed by 30 million in June. Even counting the ten million doses set aside to ensure the second doses, France will in theory have enough to completely vaccinate 19 million additional French people by the summer. This would bring the number of potential vaccinees to 37 million. A rough calculation probably underestimating the potential, since the Janssen vaccine from the Johnson & Johnson laboratory requires only one dose (7 million are expected between May and June).

Vaccine dynamics are mainly based on the Pfizer vaccine. Almost 3.5 million doses must now be delivered on a weekly basis. This vaccine is very successful, and is flowing just in time: 95% of the doses received have already been administered. This rate is 86% for the Moderna vaccine, which will be offered in city pharmacies from May 24. On the other hand, the rate of use for AstraZeneca is much too low. It stands at 56%, and a good number of appointments remain available. This vaccine has a bad reputation, due to the – very rare – cases of atypical thrombosis which have occurred after its administration. It is thus reserved in France for over 55s for whom the risk / benefit balance remains very broadly favorable. Remember that its effectiveness is very important since it protects more than 90% against serious forms of Covid-19.

The only downside is that the 5.2 million doses expected of Curevac’s vaccine will not be delivered before the 2nde semester. “The number of cases of Covid-19 in the volunteers of the phase 3 clinical trial is not high enough to allow a conclusion on the effectiveness of the vaccine in a statistically significant way”, explains Pr Marie-Paule Kieny, president of the Covid-19 vaccine committee.

This vaccine will therefore complete the vaccine arsenal, with those from Sanofi and Novavax, at the start of the school year. Will they still be useful? “These vaccines could possibly be used in the recall phases, estimates the Pr Jean-Daniel Lelièvre, immunologist at Henri-Mondor hospital. This will depend on the duration of protection and the capacity for resistance to variants of current vaccines. “ On this point, the available data are quite reassuring. All vaccines are very effective against the English variant, which represents 80% of contaminations in France. As for the South African, Brazilian or Indian viruses, initial results show a strong efficacy of RNA vaccines. And everything suggests that protection should be maintained at a very high level, at least against severe forms, for all vaccines.

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