A press conference tonight from Paris featured addresses from prime minister Castex, health minister Véran and Mr. Vaccine and Professor Alain Fischer who spent his time at the mic trying to convince the French that the AstraZeneca vaccine is just as effective, in some cases more so, than Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.
The situation in France has deteriorated over the past week. In fact, the last week of concerning Covid data erases the previous two weeks of encouraging data as cases climbed Wednesday to over 30,000 a day (not seen since November) and hospitals are reaching near capacity in some departments.
“We are not quite in the situation as the end of October when we had a real almost national outbreak, the acceleration was much stronger than today,” said Castex. “So that allows us to have strong measures but adapted to the territories since the epidemic is not equivalent everywhere.”
In a nutshell, the French have a week to do their best as a nation to wear masks, respect social distancing, work from home and abide by curfew to try and slow the current rise in contagion, of which nearly 50% of all cases are the British strain. If not, new measures, possibly confinement, could take effect on March 6.
So until March 6, in addition to local weekend confinements in the Alpes-Maritimes and Dunkirk, 18 other departments are now under “strong surveillance” with possible restrictions:
Hauts-de-France: Pas-de-Calais, Nord, Somme and Oise.
PACA: Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône, Var.
Île-de-France: Seine-Saint-Denis, Paris, Val-de-Marne, Seine-et-Marne, Val-d'Oise and Essonne.
Grand-Est: Moselle which is particularly concerned.
The average age for hospital admissions in France has dropped from 73 to 65 and 4 million French will have received their first vaccination by end of March. A total of 2.6 million people received at least one dose, of which 1.3 million people were vaccinated with both doses. Two months after the start of the vaccination campaign, more than a quarter of people over 75 have been vaccinated, and by the end of March this figure will reach two-thirds. 80% of nursing home residents are now vaccinated. Staring April, the vaccination program will open to over 65s and from mid-May, all people over 50 will have been offered a first injection.
Meanwhile, France has been granted temporary authorization for the use of treatments based on monoclonal antibodies and will receive tens of thousands of doses by mid-March to be given to people not in hospital suffering from mild to moderate Covid symptom five days after testing positive, to prevent the virus from progressing to a severe state.
We must “do everything to delay confinement,” Castex said, explaining that the new territorial policy aims to avoid as much as possible a new national confinement. The government wants first “to give the vaccination time to work.”
He added, “Confinement is a lever that we must use when we cannot do otherwise. It must be done wisely, at the right time and to the right extent.”