SHARE
COPY LINK

EUROPEAN UNION

France says ‘highly probable’ EU won’t renew AstraZeneca orders

The European Union is very unlikely to renew its Covid-19 vaccine contracts with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, a French minister said on Friday.

France says 'highly probable' EU won't renew AstraZeneca orders
French industry minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher says a repeat AstraZeneca order would be unlikely. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP

Denmark this week banned the use of AstraZeneca jabs over blood clot concerns, just as the EU said it was expecting 50 million Pfizer vaccine doses earlier than expected.

No final EU decision had been taken, French Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told RMC radio, but “it is highly probable” that no further AstraZeneca doses would be ordered for 2022.

“We have not started talks with Johnson & Johnson or with AstraZeneca for a new contract, but we have started talks with Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna,” Pannier-Runacher said.

AstraZeneca has had major problems in fulfilling its orders to the EU, with the Bloc ending up with many million fewer doses of the vaccine than it was expecting in the first two quarters, which has had an effect on the speed of the rollout across EU countries.

Denmark said on Wednesday it would stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine altogether over blood clot fears, despite assurances from the EMA and the World Health Organization that the benefits far outweigh possible risks.

Switzerland has never licensed the AstraZeneca vaccine for use and most other European countries now restrict the vaccine only to the older population, who appear to be less at risk from the rare blood clots that have been associated with it.

READ ALSO COMPARE The different strategies used in Europe to vaccinate against Covid-19

Pannier-Runacher added: “We have a portfolio of mRNA vaccines that work very well and have few side effects.

“We are going to have new vaccines, if all goes well, Novavax and Sanofi, which have very good results and we have 50 years of experience with this type of technology. Those vaccines are going to come in the second half of the year, so we’re going to see a lot of doses on different platforms that allow us to meet all the needs.”

Her prediction comes after US drugmaker Johnson & Johnson said it would delay its European rollout, also over blood clot fears – a major hit for the continent’s immunisation campaign as several countries battle rising caseloads.

The J&J and AstraZeneca setbacks are dampening hopes that mass immunisations will allow a swift exit from a pandemic that has killed close to three million people and ravaged the global economy.

Meanwhile, 50 million BioNTech/Pfizer doses that were due to arrive in Europe only at the end of 2021 have been brought forward for delivery as soon as this month.

Member comments

  1. Get the doses, put a warning on them that there is a 1 in a “x million” chance of blood clots, and let people decide whether they would get that vaccine or not. I’ll take that risk, because it’s less dangerous that crossing the street or riding a bicycle, or even swimming in the sea.

    1. When it happens to you, it is 100%. I know two people who died from blood clots. Go ahead and take the chance.
      This is an experiment and a crime against humanity.

      1. The number of people who got blood clots from AZ and subsequently died is so low, that it is safe to say that you don’t know anyone. Get a life and stop spreading fear online.

        You have higher chance of dying from taking aspirin than from AZ vaccine.

        1. COVID was created as was Aids, SARS, and Ebola. They have patents. Why haven’t the creators been arrested? The media are the ones spreading fear. Now, Pfizer is saying one may need a third jab. Really??? They are also saying people who have COVID antibodies shouldn’t take it as the risk is even higher for clots. You take it. Everyone is different and no one should be force jabbed. Medical history is between patient and doctor only.

  2. AZ did not deliver (- 70 % !), keeps lying (about delivery, “contract priorities”, clinical studies), causes the famous clots, protects you less than the competitors, and almost not at all against variants, has an invisible and arrogant (and French) CEO. Well, it’s a no brainer: AZ tried to play smart, they failed, others delivered big time, bye bye AZ, flog your stuff to the Brits, since they seem to love you so much over there (at least the tabloids do).

    1. It is also cheap, can be stored in normal fridges, and works against British variant (which is the dominant variant in Europe now).

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

With a sharp rise in reported cases in recent weeks, France appears to be in the middle of a new wave of Covid infections - so what measures are the government taking to control it?

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

Recorded case numbers in France are now over 50,000 a week, and have been since the beginning of June – this is a long way short of the 350,000 weekly cases recorded in January but still the highest since May and representing a steady an increase of 57 percent on the previous week.

Hospital admissions are also on the rise – standing at 707 admissions on Friday, June 24th compared to 400 daily admissions just two weeks earlier.

So what is the French government doing about it?

Since March, almost all Covid-related restrictions have been lifted in France – the health pass is no longer required for everyday activities such as visiting a bar or going to the gym and face masks are now merely advised in all indoor locations. Only hospitals and other health establishments such as nursing homes still have mandatory rules on face masks and health passes.

For international travel, fully vaccinated arrivals from most countries – including the UK, US and the whole of the EU – need only to show proof of vaccination, while unvaccinated travellers need to show proof of a recent negative Covid test – full details HERE.

Health pass

A proposed bill from the health ministry that was leaked to French media talks about re-imposing some form of pass sanitaire (health pass) to get numbers under control.

Some caveats to add here is that the document is only a proposal at this stage and the government has explicitly rules out – for the moment – reintroducing the vaccine pass. The health pass can be used to show either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test, so it is less restrictive for the unvaccinated.

The document suggests re-introducing a health pass for travel – both to and from France – not for everyday activities like going to a café.

Testing and contact tracing

The bill also proposes extending the software involved in contact tracing and the Covid testing programme until March 2023, although this is described as a ‘precaution’.

Testing remains available on a walk-in basis at most French pharmacies and by appointment at health centres and medical labs. Tests are free for fully-vaccinated residents of France who have a carte vitale. Those are only visiting France, who are not registered in the French health system or who are not vaccinated have to pay – prices are capped at €22 for an antigen test and €54 for a PCR test.

READ ALSO How tourists in France can get a Covid test

Masks

The Minister of Health, Brigitte Bourguignon, said she is “asking the French to wear masks on public transport once again” during an interview with RTL on Monday, June 27th. She also recommended wearing a mask in all other enclosed crowded areas, as a “civic gesture.” However, she did not refer to the request as a government mandated obligation.

At present masks are not required, but are recommended, especially on busy services where it is impossible to practice social distancing.

Epidemiologist Pascal Crépey said: “In crowded trains, the risk of being in the presence of infected people is high. It would be a good idea for the population to wear the mask, to protect especially the most fragile and avoid massive infection rates.”

Local measures

French local authorities also have the power to impose certain types of restrictions if their area has a particularly high rate of infections.

At present, none have done so, but Nice mayor Christian Estrosi has spoken in favour of possibly bringing back the vaccine pass over the summer.

Second booster shots

A second booster shot of the Covid vaccine is now available to all over 60s and anyone who has a long-term medical condition or who is otherwise at risk from Covid.

It is recommended that the government increase public messaging advising those in high risk groups to get the second booster shot. The medical regular HAS has advised combining second booster shots with the seasonal flu vaccine campaign in September and October.

France is not, at present, considering widening the campaign to the entire popular, but the EU’s vaccine commissioner Thierry Breton says that if necessary, there would be enough doses to cover the whole population.

SHOW COMMENTS