Lunchtime News Thursday 18th March 2021

News

Covid press conference postponed to 7pm - The much awaited press conference on new measures concerning the health crisis in France, which was scheduled this evening at 6pm, has been postponed until 7pm in order to await the opinion of the European Health Agency (EMA) on the AstraZeneca vaccine.

French association L'AVEP claims double standards - As the European Medicines Agency is today due to vote on the approval or not of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to concerns that it could be linked to cases of thrombosis the French Association L'AVEP (Victims of Pulmonary Embolism and Stroke Linked to Hormonal Contraception), has said that there are "double standards”. The association "is astonished at the indifference towards the thousands of women who are victims of thrombosis and embolism due to their contraception in France and in Europe" adding that “the pill has proven to be a  risk of thrombosis and is less talked about than AstraZeneca” and that the “AstraZeneca vaccine is being singled out suspected of causing cases of thrombosis”. 

The association points out that the National Medicines Safety Agency recorded "40 cases of deep vein thrombosis per 100,000 women per year for the third-generation pill and 20 cases per 100,000 women are caused each year by the 2nd generation pill”.

In general, birth control pills can be dangerous when combined with other factors when there is a family history or if you are overweight or smoke. Luc Herry, vice-president of  the Belgian Association of Medical Syndicates and responsible for a vaccination center sums up as follows: "If you are a woman and you smoke, you have a risk thrombosis which is much higher than getting vaccinated. "

Meanwhile infectious disease specialist Odile Launay, a member of the Covid vaccine committee created by the French government says in defence of the precautionary measures that “while in the case of the pill the risk of thrombosis is known and taken into account when being prescribed, this is not the case with AstraZeneca's vaccine, which is a new product".

Covid figures - The number of new Covid-19 contaminations was up sharply on Wednesday to 38,501. A figure that had not been reached since November 17th, when the country was in full lockdown. In addition, the pressure on the intensive care units has decreased very slightly, with 20 patients less than the day before.

Cost of health crisis - France’s minister of public finances has said that the health crisis has globally cost the State more than 160 billion euros in 2020 specifying that this figure is “not final”. Olivier Dussopt unveiled the cost of the health crisis at 160 billion euros or nearly 7% of the French GDP on Wednesday 17th March.

Study on Covid re-infection - According to a large Danish study, concerning the re-infection of Covid, people 65 years of age or older have an increased risk of catching Covid-19 for a second time. However, overall re-infections remain rare. The study published today confirms that only a small proportion of people (0.65%) have had a positive PCR test twice.

Italy pays tribute to Covid victims - Italy is to pay tribute to the victims of Covid, a ceremony is to be held today for more than 103,000 victims in the north of the country in the presence of the head of government Mario Draghi.

In other news 

Earthquake - At least two earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 3 were recorded last night in the Alpes Maritimes. A tremor with a magnitude of 3.2 was recorded at 1:12am, the epicenter was located south of Puget-Théniers. A few minutes later, at 1:18 am, another earthquake with a magnitude of 3.4 occurred in Grasse. No damage was reported although many have taken to social media to say that they felt the tremor.

Meanwhile a much larger earthquake caused some damage but no victims in off the Algerian coast on Thursday morning some 700 km from our coast causing the city of Cannes to issue a yellow tsunami warning along the Mediterranean coast as far as the Var. The alert was finally lifted at 4:25am.

Road accident leaves teenager in a critical condition - 18 cyclists have been hit by a car driving in the wrong way on a road in Saint-Just-Saint-Rambert, near Saint-Étienne leading to a teenager being hospitalised in a critical condition. An investigation has been opened for aggravated unintentional injuries.

Pay tolls on motorways in France - The French government is stepping up controls and increasing fines against motorist who try to pass through pay tolls without paying.  Sticking close to the car in front of you, referred to as “le petit train” is a popular technique used by fraudsters. Fines are set to increase from 75 euros to 375 and reaching up to 7,500 euros in the event of a repeat offense. The government's objective is to encourage people to pay at the barrier and eventually remove barriers replacing them with large gantries above the lanes equipped with sensors to detect vehicles. Currently there is only one toll of this type in France, on the A4, between Metz and Forbach. The Ministry of Transport sees the project as a way to limit traffic jams and therefore greenhouse gas emissions.

Nicolas Sarkozy - The trial of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and 13 other defendants, scheduled on Wednesday 17th March, has been postponed until May 20th due to the state of health of one of the lawyers. Sarkozy was set to appear before the court from March 17th to April 15th concerning alleged "illegal campaign financing".

 

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