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 section of the Institution François d’Assise - Nicolas Barré here in the Principality after a pupil tested positive for Covid.
Nursery classes closed in the Alpes Maritimes – Meanwhile six nursery classes have been closed in schools in the Alpes Maritimes. On Monday 15th March due to positive cases of Covid a nursery class at the Saint-Barthélemy school in Nice, as well as the Manoir school were closed along with three nursery classes at Les Lauriers Roses school in Nice and one at the Jean Moulin school in Antibes.
As far as testing in schools is concerned the past week has seen, 6,411 tests carried out, including 3,256 saliva tests 2,797 antigen tests in middle schools and 348 antigen tests in high schools.
In other news
Road safety - 175 people died on the roads of mainland France in February 2021 against 220 in February 2020, which is a reduction of about 20%. The National Interministerial Road Safety Observatory said that restrictions on travel and the reduction of commuting largely explain the lower number of road accidents.
Vehicle registration in Monaco - In Monaco, the vehicle registration and licencing service is making appointments available online. The new service allows users to indicate the reason for their visit, select the day and time of the appointment according to availability and to receive a confirmation by e-mail as well as a reminder by SMS the day before the appointment. The website address is https://documents.gouv.mc/stc-rdv/
Airline executives in the United States have said that they’re seeing signs of a domestic leisure travel recovery as the slowing coronavirus pandemic lifts spring and summer bookings.
Airline shares rose to their highest level since the crisis hit the sector a year ago on Monday after executives cited data showing that coronavirus vaccinations in the United States are accelerating and have now outstripped the number of positive cases.
As of Sunday ,21 percent of the US population had received at least one dose of a vaccine.
The news has prompted people to start booking holidays and visits to friends and family and has helped to slow the pace of airline revenue declines in the first quarter.
More than 1.3 million passengers were screened at US airports between Friday and Sunday according to the National Transportation Security Administration ,the highest number since the pandemic decimated air travel in 2020.
Business and international travel remains depressed.
Solar power installations in the United States are expected to quadruple by 2030 thanks to the extension of a key industry subsidy and booming demand for carbon-free power.
The US Solar Energy Industries Association says that the sector will install 324 gigawatts of capacity over the next decade which is more than three times the amount installed up until the end of last year.
The new installations would produce enough electricity to power around 60 million homes or some 40 percent of current domestic needs.
At the moment ,only three percent of US electricity is generated through solar but the figure could rise to 20 percent by 2030.
At the end of last year ,Congress extended a 26 percent tax credit to reduce the cost of solar facilities as part of a package to provide coronavirus aid and fund the government.
The industry is now calling for further tax incentives and the lifting of tariffs on overseas-made solar panels along with workforce training to boost demand.
And-The chocolate maker Thorntons has said that it will not reopen any of its UK shops after coronavirus lockdowns are lifted.
The firm said that it had been badly hit by the pandemic which forced it to shut stores during the crucial Easter and Christmas holiday periods.
The firm ,which was bought by Italy’s Ferrero in 2015 said that despite its best efforts ,the decision had been taken to permanently close its retail store estate.
Thorntons, which has had a presence on the UK high street for more than a century ,started to lose trade in the early 2000s as a result of increased competition.
Ferrero has tried to turn the business around but its decline continued as the number of its high street stores dwindled from 252 to just 61.
The brand will continue to be available online and in supermarkets.
Football-There was one game in the English Premier League last night.
Liverpool got back to winning ways with a 1-0 victory at Wolves.
There are two round of 16 second leg ties in the Champions League tonight.
Manchester City play Borussia Monchengladbach leading 2-0 from the first leg while Real Madrid take a 1-0 lead into their game against Atalanta.
Formula 1-There are signs that Red Bull could make a serious challenge to Mercedes in this year’s world championship.
Red Bull have given the impression that they’re in the best shape heading into the 2021 season after three days of testing in Bahrain with Mercedes struggling.
The German giants have been written off many times before but they experienced a number of issues in Bahrain including gear box problems ,spins and instability.
Red Bull ended the testing session with the quickest car and observers say that the all round package is looking good.
The jury is out on the rest of the field but Ferrari look like they may be struggling for pace again.
Cricket-The remaining three T20 internationals between India and England will be played behind closed doors because of rising coronavirus cases in the state of Gujarat.
Crowds of 66,000 and 67,000 attended the first two matches and the ball was sanitised every time it went into the stands.
The third match gets underway at 2.30 French time this afternoon with the series tied at 1-1.
Rugby Union-Gary Ringrose and James Ryan will miss the final 6 Nations game against England in Dublin on Saturday through injury.
Ryan was taken off late in Ireland’s win over Scotland for a head injury assessment and will not have completed return-to-play protocols in time for the match while Ringrose picked up an ankle injury.
Flanker Peter O’Mahony will be available for selection after returning from a three match suspension.
Boxing-The world heavyweight showdown between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua is getting closer after promotor Eddie Hearn said that a two fight deal has been agreed.
The winner of the fight will become the undisputed world heavyweight champion.
No date or location has been decided for the first fight but Hearn says that there have been offers from “8 or 9 locations”.
He said that pen had been put to paper and the date and location of the fight would be announced within the next few weeks.
Mainly fine with moderate southerly winds across the Var.
Top temperature 18 degrees.
Overnight lows of 6-8 degrees with clear skies.
Wednesday and Thursday -Sunshine and showers with highs of 14-16 degrees.
A study has shown that having high levels of the hormone testosterone can make men less generous and more likely to exhibit selfish behaviours,
Psychologists from China and Switzerland measured the brain activity of men while they completed a task involving deciding between generous and selfish options. The team found that men who had been given additional testosterone three hours before completing the task tended to select the more selfish options.
Furthermore, the testosterone was found to dampen activity in a region of the brain which is known to be involved in the consideration of other people's welfare.