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In France, vaccine shortages are starting to be felt

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In the absence of sufficient vaccine doses, three regional health agencies (ARS) have already announced that they have to postpone the scheduled vaccination appointments. Delays that risk calling into question the objectives of the French campaign.

Delays in the supply of anti-Covid-19 vaccines are starting to be seriously felt in France. While some 1.13 million first doses have been injected since December and 6,153 people have received their second injection, other patients are seeing their first appointment postponed for lack of sufficient doses.

After the announcement of the temporary drop in deliveries of vaccine doses from the Pfizer-BioNTech duo – 200,000 fewer in January – the Ministry of Health confirmed Thursday, January 28 that Moderna was also experiencing delays. The manufacturer is forced to reduce by a quarter the number of doses delivered to France for the month of February.

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First-time injections stopped in three regions

As a result, the regional health agencies (ARS) of Île-de-France, Hauts-de-France and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté announced Thursday in turn that the vaccination centers should postpone the first appointments. injection in order to “guarantee the administration of the second injection for all those who have already received the first dose in January”.

In a press release, the Hauts-de-France ARS announced the postponement of the appointments for a first injection in order to “guarantee the administration of the second injection for all those who have already received the first dose in January”. All the primary vaccination appointments scheduled until Tuesday February 2 inclusive will therefore be deprogrammed and immediately reprogrammed from the first week of March.

The ARS Île-de-France foresees for its part “the delay of 15,000 to 20,000 appointments” fixed for the week of February 8, which will be rescheduled “in the following 15 days at most”, therefore before the end of the month.

In Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, the online booking of new appointments in vaccination centers for first-time injections is suspended. Appointments that had already been made are likely to be postponed for a few days or weeks, the ARS said in a statement.

“Launch without prior stock”

Under these conditions, not sure that the government’s objective of vaccinating the entire French population before the end of the summer is tenable. If, as the daily Les Echos indicates, the slowdown in deliveries could be caught up by the end of March, the weight of these delays could weigh on the French vaccination campaign against Covid-19.

These difficulties can be explained simply. Asked about LCI, the CEO of Moderna, Stéphane Bancel, indicated that these delays are related to logistical problems that the laboratories must face. “It usually takes three to four years to build an industrial tool for a new vaccine,” he said. “Having an approval in less than twelve months creates a common problem: starting up production lines. The launch, which is often slow, takes place in real time, without prior stock. So as soon as there is a small slippage, which would usually be normal, it is immediately visible. “

Vaccination slow in Europe

As Europe wanted to speak with one voice to proceed with the purchase of vaccines, the countries neighboring France are experiencing the same disruptions in their supply. Portugal estimated that the first phase of its vaccination campaign should be extended by two months, while only half of the doses expected for March should be delivered.

For Germany, the shortage should be felt until April. “We’re going to have ten tough weeks at least with a vaccine shortage,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Twitter.

The French Ministry of Health still ensures that 2.4 million injections should be administered in February, first and second doses combined. “About 5% of appointments for a first injection will have to be postponed by a few days” but “no appointment will be canceled,” said the ministry.

With AFP and Reuters

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