Evening Update Wednesday 7 April 2021

The European Medicines Agency has held a press conference to present the conclusions of its analysis of rare blood clots after use of the Astra Zeneca vaccine. Emer Cooke Executive Director of the EMA confirmed that the overall benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks. The EMA said that its conclusion is that the clotting disorders are very rare side effects of the vaccine and they should be listed as such. The product information will be updated and warnings included. It said that the rare events are seen in all ages and in men and women. Although most cases were in women under 60, they also occurred in men. A cause hasn't been identified but it said that a possible explanation is an immune response to the vaccine. It added that when vaccines are given to millions of people it's possible that vey rare events can occur which weren't identified in clinical trials. The EMA reminded healthcare professionals and people receiving the vaccine to remain aware of the possibility of very rare cases of blood clots combined with low levels of blood platelets occurring within 2 weeks of vaccination. It said that by recognising the signs of bloods clots and low blood platelets and treating them early, healthcare professionals can help those affected. Separately, the UK's vaccine advisory body has said that under-30s are to be offered an alternative vaccine to the AstraZeneca vaccine due to the blood clots issue.

The mayor of Mandelieu-la-Napoule, Sebastien Leroy, has said that he is opening vaccination to people aged over 50. Speaking on France Bleu Azur this morning he said that vaccinations are also being opened to teachers, nursing staff and law enforcement personnel without any age criterea. He said that he had been told that what he is doing is against government policy. The move follows the Mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, also opening vaccinations to the over 50's.

Alpes Maritime deputy Eric Ciotti has said that France took Covid-19 protective measures and launched its vaccination campaign too late. Comparing the situation in France to that in the UK, he pointed out that nearly 50% of the British are vaccinated against 13% of the French and added that France has "accumulated 2 to 3 months of delay". He said that life is resuming in Great Britain but France is "still in the midst of health chaos for at least several weeks because we have wasted time".

Antibes Mayor Jean Leonetti has said that more than 20,000 people have now been vaccinated at the Antibes Vaccination Center. 75% of over 75's and 40% of over 65's have been vaccinated. He said that the average age of people who are hospitalized is 67 years old.

The Regional Health Agency in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes has asked all hospitals in the region to un-schedule all non-urgent operations. The request, which affects both public and private hospitals, has been made to free up facilities for Covid-19 patients.

French Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher has said that vaccines produced in France will not be specifically allocated to France but will instead contribute to the production capacity of the whole of the European Union. A factory in north-west France is beginning production of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine today. Several further French plants producing Covid-19 vaccines are expected start production in the next few months.

Reports say that the Paris Prosecutors Office has opened an investigation into alleged computer attacks on an online education platform. Minister for National Education Jean-Michel Blanquer said that part of the reason for problems with educational platforms yesterday could be the result of attacks on servers from abroad.

A Council of  Ministers meeting is scheduled to take place in Paris tomorrow morning. An update is expected from government spokesperson Gabriel Attal shortly afterwards.

In other news, nine people have been arrested in Nice in connection with drugs offences. The arrests were made in the west of Nice, near the airport. Several kilos of drugs were seized in an operation carried out by the National Police.

 

BUSINESS

A widely watched survey suggests that the UK services sector returned to growth in March. There was a sharp rise in orders ahead of the easing of some coronavirus restrictions. The IHS Markit PMI surveys also showed that private sector activity in the eurozone expanded in March, driven by record growth in the manufacturing sector. There was also a return to growth in Germany's service sector with business confidence in Germany the highest in three years. However, the services sector lagged in France, recording a figure of 48.2. This was higher than exected but a figure below 50 still indicates contraction.

Energy company Royal Dutch Shell has said that a winter storm in Texas is expected to have an adverse impact of up to $200 million on its earnings. In an update issued today the company said that adjusted earnings from its upstream oil business are expected to be positive in the first quarter 2021 as it benefits from higher oil prices.

 

SPORT

Football... Kevin de Bruyne has signed a new contract with Manchester City which runs until 2025. He had more than two years remaining on his previous deal.

Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium has been selected as a Covid secure venue to host two England friendlies. England will play Austria on 2 June and Romania on 6 June.

This evening in the Champions League Bayern Munich face PSG and FC Porto play Chelsea.

Cricket... Australia's womens team have beaten New Zealand by 71 runs to extend their one-day international winning streak to 23 matches. The victory means that they take the series 2-0.

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