French and Riviera News Tuesday 16th March 2021


Vaccination campaign in France faces huge setback – As a precaution AstraZeneca vaccinations have been suspended in France marking a huge set back in the country’s vaccination campaign which has already been blighted by obstacles. Speaking on TF1 on Monday evening a pharmacist from the Paris region explained how vaccinations were suspended on Monday afternoon following the Head of State’s announcement she went on to express her concern that the “doses received can only be kept up to six hours before having to be discarded”. This means that thousands of doses as well as additional doses, sent to the worst hit regions of France will be discarded. France is awaiting a decision from the European Medicines Agency on the safety of the vaccine which is not expected to be announced until Thursday. Meanwhile the World Health Organisation has urged countries not to pause the vaccinations.

The controversy surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine is due to a “possible link” with the formation of blood clots in some patients. Several European countries have suspended the use of the vaccine however London continues to defend the vaccine developed by the Swedish-British laboratory and the University of Oxford, deeming it "safe and effective". The UK has already vaccinated more than 22 million people with a first dose, so far using only Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca.

Figures - Figures for the number of those affected by blood clots differ with the BBC reporting that “fewer than 40 cases of blood clots were reported as of last week out of 17 million people vaccinated in the EU and the UK” while according to the EMA, “22 cases have been reported as of March 9th for more than three million people vaccinated in its area (European Union, Norway and Iceland)”.

Confederation of French medical unions surprised by decision – Meanwhile the president of the Confederation of French medical unions Jean-Paul Ortiz along with doctors and pharmacists in France have denounced the decision saying it is "catastrophic" and "surprising". Jean Paul Ortiz went on to say that “nothing indicates for the moment a cause or link with this vaccination” adding that "It is a political decision and it is very clearly a blow for the vaccination campaign " before noting that “the UK has vaccinated 20 million people without a problem ".

And also, the Federation of Pharmaceutical Unions in France (FSPF) has reacted strongly to the decision with its president Philippe Besser reminding people that there are "300 deaths from Covid per day in France”. According to him, "there was no scientific advice it was a political decision to stop vaccination".

New variant of Covid identified in Brittany – And a new variant of Covid has been discovered in Brittany. According to the DGS, the variant so far appears to be no more dangerous or contagious but may have the ability to go undetected using the current testing methods for Covid. In a press release on Monday the General Directorate of Health confirmed that further " evaluations are currently underway”. On Saturday 13th March, 8 cases of people carrying this variant had been identified.

New decisions from French government - During a press conference on Monday March 15th French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the government would "in the coming days, take no doubt, new decisions" concerning the coronavirus pandemic. Asked about a possible return to lockdown in the Île-de-France region, where the intensive care hospital services are under immense pressure, the Head of State said that "the reality of the pandemic would be looked at, city by city”.

Bonus - French Prime Minister Jean Castex has announced that companies will be able to pay a tax-free premium of 1,000 euros in 2021. The Prime Minister also announced the extension of the hiring bonus for young people until May 31st, and apprenticeship aid until the end of the year. A similar device, sometimes called the "Macron prime", was proposed in 2019, in the wake of the "yellow vests" movement, and in 2020, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.

Covid figures for the Var - According to the Regional Health Agency for the Provence Alpes Côte D’Azur region the circulation of Covid is stabilizing while remaining higher than that recorded at the national level.

The number of deaths recorded in the Var department since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,476 people. On Monday the Regional Health Agency announced 25 new deaths linked to Covid-19 in hospitals in the Var department. The incidence rate remains stable at 313 in the Var for the period from March 1st to March 7th.

Monaco- In Monaco 13 new cases of Covid were declared on Monday with the number of residents affected standing at 2,120. Thirty-nine people are currently in hospital and 79 are being followed by the Home Monitoring Centre.

Meanwhile a class has been closed until Tuesday March 23rd at the nursery