France looks set to begin its vaccination campaign before the end of 2020, with Prime Minister Jean Castex saying this week that the first phase will commence “from the last week of December, if conditions allow it”.
The first stage will involve vaccinating just over one million elderly people living in care homes and the staff there and will take place over a period of six to eight weeks.
The BioNTech/Pfizer vaccination should receive EU marketing authorisation on December 23 and be rolled out simultaneously by member states between December 27 and 29.
France should receive around 500,000 doses immediately and a further 1.5 million in January.
The other vaccines
There are currently 63 vaccines being tested in clinical trials on humans around the world. At least 85 preclinical vaccines are being investigated in animals.
The EU has set up a mechanism to buy doses of coronavirus vaccines, which will then be distributed to member states when available.
So far, the EU has contracts with six companies producing vaccinations: BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutica and CureVac.
France has reserved a total of nearly 200 million Covid-19 vaccinations from these companies.
Mr Castex said earlier this week when presenting his vaccination strategy to parliament that “we are counting on the most advanced vaccines, the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine”.
He added, “others are in phase three clinical trials, such as AstraZeneca or Janssen, and could therefore be available in the coming months, although we must remain very cautious at this stage about precise deadlines given the uncertainties linked to the trials underway”.
The Moderna vaccination should receive market authorisation from mid January and then deliver its first one million doses to France in January and February.
It is not yet known when AstraZeneca will be able to deliver its first doses. The company had to pause its trials for a short period in October when a neurological issue was discovered in one volunteer. The trials resumed shortly after.
The French government expects that vaccination to receive marketing authorisation in February, when the company is scheduled to deliver five million doses.
If AstraZeneca cannot deliver its vaccines, France will be able to vaccinate 4 million fewer people by the end of March and ten million fewer than expected by June.
France is aiming to vaccinate a total of 27 million people by the end of June.
CureVac is expected to deliver its vaccine in March and Janssen two months later, creating an extra ten million doses for France by the end of May.
Twitter mistake reveals vaccine prices
Belgium’s budget state secretary Eva De Bleeker tweeted out a table showing the price of the vaccines ordered by the EU.
The European Commission has previously stated that it could not disclose the cost of the vaccines due to commercial confidentiality agreements.
The tweet was deleted shortly after but Belgian news site HLN published a screenshot of it.
The tweet showed that the EU is spending between €1.78 and €14.71 per dose for the vaccines, with the Moderna option the most expensive.
Price per dose of each vaccine:
- Oxford/AstraZeneca: €1.78
- Janssen: $8.50 (which converts to €6.95)
- Sanofi/GSK: €7.56
- BioNTech/Pfizer: €12
- CureVac: €10
- Moderna: $18 (which converts to €14.71)