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Covid-19: Does France have enough vaccine doses?

The government is aiming to vaccinate 15 million people before summer

France has ordered 225 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines in total, to be delivered over the course of 2021, but some of those vaccines have not yet been approved by health authorities. We explain the rollout campaign.

Vaccinations to begin for over 75s in France: How-to guide

The French government is aiming to vaccinate around one million people by the end of January and 15 million of the most vulnerable before the summer. 

Prime Minister Jean Castex said, “our objective is to vaccinate the 15 million elderly people suffering from chronic diseases as a priority, as quickly as possible.

“If we [succeed], we will have protected them from the health risk and we will have protected our hospitals,” he said during a press conference on January 7

The success of that plan depends on vaccines that have yet to be approved for usage. 

Which vaccines has France ordered?

France has ordered six different Covid-19 vaccines, via the European Union, of which two have been approved so far.

All of them require two doses to be fully effective, except the Janssen-Johnson & Johnson vaccine which only requires one. 

  • Pfizer-BioNTech (approved): Total of 49 million doses
  • Moderna (approved): Total of 24 million doses
  • AstraZeneca: Total of 44 million doses
  • CureVac: Total of 34 million doses
  • Janssen-Johnson & Johnson: Total of 30 million doses 
  • Sanofi-GSK: Total of 45 million doses

Total: 225 million doses (approximately)

When will they be delivered?

The graph below shows how many doses of each vaccine France has ordered and when it expects they will be delivered. 

The data above shows that with the two vaccines that have been approved so far, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, France will be able to vaccinate the first one million people by the end of January as targeted and the first 15 million people by around May or June. 

If the AstraZeneca vaccine is also approved, this could happen by around April. 

If, in the best case scenario, all vaccines are approved, by June France will receive enough doses to fully vaccinate 42.5 million people. This takes into account the fact that all vaccines require two doses except Janssen-Johnson & Johnson, which requires one.

If no other vaccines are authorised, France will have enough doses to vaccinate around 16 million people by June and around 36 million by the end of 2021. 

France’s total population is around 67 million. Health authorities have stated that around 60% of the population, or 40 million people, will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 before the vaccination campaign can be effective. 

When will the remaining vaccines receive approval?

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine have already been approved by EU health authorities. 

France prepares for first Moderna vaccine doses to arrive

The AstraZeneca vaccine is already being rolled out in the UK but has yet to be sent to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for approval.

That is expected to happen this week, with a decision on approval to be made by the end of January. 

The EMA has started rolling reviews of the AstraZeneca and Janssen-Johnson & Johnson vaccines to accelerate the process, but neither have yet been sent for official approval. 

The German company CureVac has recently announced a partnership with pharmaceutical giant Bayer to help with the development and supply of its vaccine. 

It has not been sent to the EMA for approval yet, but Bayer said on January 7 that distribution should hopefully begin in the US in the second quarter of this year, US magazine Fortune reported. 

In December, 2020, Sanofi announced a delay in the development of its vaccine.

Sanofi stated that it plans to start a phase 2b study in February 2021. If the results of this are positive, a global phase 3 study will start in the second quarter of 2021, which would lead to submissions for approval in the second half of 2021. 

This would make the vaccine available from mid-2021 to Q4 2021, if all goes well, the company announced.

Read more:

Covid-19 vaccine in France: Your questions answered

France to open ways for public to register for Covid vaccine

France to keep list of people who have Covid vaccination

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