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Covid France Updates: Janssen vaccine for over 55s, homage for victims

More travel restrictions are to be put in place, the Janssen vaccine will be used as planned and there will be a tribute to 100,000 Covid victims, the government announced yesterday

15 April 2021
Man being vaccinated. Covid France Updates: Janssen vaccine for over 55s, homage for victimsThe Johnson & Johnson "Janssen" vaccine will be used for people aged over 55 in France
By Joanna York

France is to continue its rollout of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after it was suspended in the US and deliveries to Europe were paused.

The announcement was made yesterday (April 14) by government spokesperson Gabriel Attal, who also said there would be a national tribute to honour people who have died from Covid-19 and that more travel restrictions are coming. 

Here we summarise the key points of his announcement.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be given to over 55s

The Johnson and Johnson “Janssen” vaccine rollout will continue as planned in France. This means people aged over 55 will be eligible for the vaccine.

This age group is also eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

This comes as medical regulators in the US have suspended the vaccine rollout while incidences of people suffering blood clots after vaccination are investigated. 

Read more: How will suspension of Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine impact France?

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) will publish its recommendations for the vaccine next week. For now, it says the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks.

Despite reported delivery delays to Europe, Mr Attal said: “200,000 doses of the vaccine arrived in France at the beginning of this week. [They] will be distributed in the same way as the AstraZeneca vaccine, meaning for people aged over 55.”

Homage to 100,000 Covid-19 victims planned

Mr Attal said there would be a “moment of homage and grief for the nation” in remembrance of lives lost due to Covid-19.

The latest figures from April 14 show that 99,805 people have died from Covid-19 since the start of the health crisis in France.

As the death toll approaches 100,000 Mr Attal said: “That’s 100,000 grieving families.” 

He said President Macron had already discussed what the tribute may entail with ministers, but a date had not yet been set.

One MP suggested a day of remembrance for the victims, as did Lionel Petitpas, president of the Victimes du Covid association.

Mr Petitpas wrote to President Macron with his suggestion, and received a response that said: “The establishment of a day dedicated to the memory of those taken by the virus is being considered.”

Travel restrictions for countries most affected by health pandemic

Next Monday (April 19) the government will present new travel rules for countries heavily affected by the virus, in line with those announced for Brazil this week.

Read more: France stops flights from Brazil: Why the Covid variant is worrying

Mr Attal said the new rules would apply to countries with “a variant that is particularly dangerous and dominant” and where there is a “huge increase or dynamic spread of the epidemic”.

He added that people in France who come from countries facing restrictions would still be able to return home under the new rules.

Flights between France and Brazil have been suspended until April 19 due to the risk posed by the Brazilian Covid variant. The government is still working out how to allow people from Brazil in France to return home, if they want to.

Possible solutions include indirect or individual flights.

Other Covid updates include:

Iran stops flights with France

Iran announced yesterday it would suspend flights coming from France. Flights between Teheran and Paris, run by Iran Air, will be affected.

The decision was made by Iranian authorities based on the health situation in France. 

PACA pre-orders 500,000 doses of Russian vaccine

The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region has pre-ordered 500,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, Regional President Renaud Muselier said yesterday.

Mr Muselier said the order was made on the condition that the vaccine was approved by the EMA, and that doses would be made available through the Agence Regional de Santé in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. 

He said: “I saw the Russian ambassador and I made a pre-order for 500,000 doses of Sputnik V…I put myself on the list so that I will be one of the first on the list when they become available.”

Business debts extended or cancelled on case-by-case basis 

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said that his ministry will present a solution for extending or partially cancelling business debts on a case-by-case-basis.

He said some businesses were facing a “wall of debt” as a result of the health crisis, as they have been unable to make repayments for the past year.

Discussions will involve the state, banks, statutory auditors, and commercial courts which would study businesses “case-by-case” to see if they were eligible, he said.

The minister said: “We are not going to wait for businesses to hit the wall. We will look at the situation together and see if we need to extend their debts or cancel part of them.”

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