Illustration of the AstraZeneca vaccine. – FRANCOIS GREUEZ / SIPA / SIPA

France is expecting fewer doses of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine in February, before catching up in March. The arrival of Janssen’s vaccine, meanwhile, is expected in May rather than April, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

“We will reach 1.7 million doses in February for AstraZeneca instead of 2.5, which we had initially planned”, “but it is a lag” and “if we combine February and March, we fall back on our feet with 5.9 million cumulative doses ”, we told the ministry during a weekly update on vaccines.

“Phenomenal efficiency” in the elderly, according to a study

According to the same source, after a delivery of 550,000 doses last week, the same number is expected this week and around 850,000 doses are expected to arrive next week. The expected total of nearly six million doses at the end of March is already below previous forecasts, which were set at nine million at the end of the first quarter. At the Ministry of Health, we especially insist on the issue of using these doses, conceding that “we have a question of image deficit for AstraZeneca” that must be made up, after questions have been raised about its side effects and effectiveness.

For now, this vaccine is reserved for people aged 50 to 64 with co-morbidities, or around two million people, and health professionals under 65. The Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) has not recommended it at this stage for older age groups due to a lack of data. Visiting the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE), Minister of Health Olivier Véran, however, stressed on Tuesday that a Scottish study made public on Monday, not yet evaluated by other scientists, showed “an absolutely phenomenal effectiveness of the ‘AstraZeneca in the elderly, even 65 years and older’.

The May deadline, the “worst case scenario”

Regarding the vaccine from Janssen, a subsidiary of the American Johnson & Johnson, “the arrival should take place in May”, added the ministry, while previous forecasts, in early February, counted on 2.7 million doses in April . “The laboratory tells us that April seems difficult to them” but “the hypothesis is still being validated, it is the” worst case scenario “(the worst scenario)”, adds the same source.

Nevertheless, “we should no longer be in a problem of dose tensions” at that time, with more than 30 million cumulative doses expected in France in April for the first three vaccines authorized in Europe (Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca), underlines the Ministry of Health. After almost two months of the vaccination campaign, much criticized initially for its slowness, more than 2.5 million people in France have received at least one dose of vaccine, of which more than 1.1 million have been vaccinated with two doses.

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