The coronavirus variant detected for the first time in France, the vaccine has arrived

A first case of contamination by the variant of the coronavirus, which appeared in the United Kingdom, was detected in France on Friday, December 25, while the vaccine arrived on Saturday this Saturday on French soil.

Medical laboratory

A first case of contamination by the Covid-19 variant that appeared in the United Kingdom was detected in France on Friday, December 25, two days before the first injections of the vaccine, which arrived on French soil this Saturday.

The presence of this variant was confirmed in Tours, in a Frenchman usually residing in the United Kingdom. The man is asymptomatic and has been isolated at his home, said the Ministry of Health, which announced the first case.

This is the “first contamination with the 202012/01 VOC variant of the Covid-19 virus” detected in France, he explains. This variant appeared in September in the UK and studies indicate it may be more contagious.

The man had arrived “from London on December 19” and was “taken care of” at the hospital two days later, and “tested positive for the coronavirus”.

“The health authorities carried out contact-tracing (contact tracing) of health professionals who took care of the patient and looked for his contact persons at risk, to proceed to their strict isolation”, it is specified. .

In addition to this case, “to date, several positive samples that may suggest the VOC 202012/01 variant are being sequenced by the CNR laboratories”, adds the ministry.

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More contagious

Like other European countries, France, which has already paid a very heavy price to Covid with more than 62,000 deaths, had feared for several days the presence of the variant of the virus within its borders.

And this despite the re-containment of London and part of England, as well as the precautionary suspension of cross-Channel links and the introduction of compulsory tests to enter French territory.

Last Monday, the Minister of Health Olivier Véran admitted that it was “possible” that the variant was already circulating in France. A similar case was reported in Germany, in a woman arriving by plane from London, and in Lebanon, also in a London passenger.

According to several studies presented in the UK, the new variant is more contagious than the original strain. One of them estimates that this contagiousness is higher by “50% to 74%” and that this could have consequences on the number of deaths and hospitalizations linked to Covid-19 across the Channel.

But nothing shows at this stage that this variant leads to more serious forms.

“Historic” moment

Better resistance of this variant to the vaccines which have started to be distributed in the United States, the United Kingdom, and which are expected worldwide, would represent a disaster scenario. But this is not the most likely hypothesis in the eyes of scientists.

“At the moment, there is no evidence to suggest that this vaccine is not effective against the new variant,” Emer Cooke, director general of the European Medicines Agency, said on Monday, giving the green light to the product developed. by Pfizer-BioNTech.

The confirmation of the first case in France comes just before the launch of the vaccination campaign, which starts Sunday in France, as in the other countries of the European Union.

The first 19,500 doses of the vaccine intended for France arrived early Saturday morning, under escort of the gendarmerie, at the central pharmacy of Public Assistance – Paris Hospitals (AP-HP), in the Paris suburbs, in a refrigerated truck from the Belgian factory of Pfizer.

Other French sites were to be delivered during the day, in the Lyon region, in Lille and Tours.

The first 3,900 bottles received by the AP-HP are in particular intended for its establishments: three of them were to be delivered by courier on Saturday to the long-term care unit of the René-Muret hospital in Sevran ( Seine-Saint-Denis), where vaccination will begin on Sunday, with a few elderly people and at least one volunteer caregiver.

Six other bottles of the same stock will go to the geriatric center of Champmaillot dependent on the CHU of Dijon, second place of the symbolic launch of the campaign.

This vaccine, called Comirnaty, requires very specific logistics since it must be stored at -80 ° C. It can then be stored at 2 to 8 ° C for a maximum of five days.

“A vaccine delivery schedule will be determined each previous weekend to avoid losses,” explained to the cameras the head of the hospital pharmacy pole of Paris Hospitals, Franck Huet, who greeted a “historic” day on Saturday. “It’s a moving moment”, added Anne Darchy, pharmacist on duty.

The campaign for the 7,000 nursing homes in France and other establishments for the elderly, their residents and their caregivers likely to develop serious forms of Covid will not start on a large scale until the beginning of 2021.

About a million people will be offered the Comirnaty during this first stage of the French vaccination campaign, which is to be spread over January and February.

(With AFP)