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France begins distributing AstraZeneca COVID vaccine amid UK variant warning

France begins distributing AstraZeneca COVID vaccine amid UK variant warning

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Paris [France], February 7 (ANI): France began distributing the AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday as epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet warned the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 -- first identified in the UK - could be dominant in the country by March.
"Between January 7-8, [the B.1.1.7 Variant] accounted for 3.3 per cent of new contaminations; on January 27, it was 14 per cent according to preliminary results from the second flash study," Fontanet, who is also a member of the Scientific Council advising the French government on the pandemic, said in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche quoted by CNN.
"This progression confirms it is 50 to 60 per cent more transmissible than the 2020 virus. If we continue on this trajectory, with an R number of 1.5 for the English variant, we will reach 30-35 per cent by mid-February and the number of hospital admissions will be around 2,000 a day. This variant will become dominant around March 1," he added.
CNN reported that the warning comes after an announcement by the French Ministry of Health on Saturday that the first shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine had been delivered to healthcare professionals.
Citing a statement, the Ministry said the first doses will be given to healthcare staff under the age of 65. The first shipment concerns 273,600 doses, the statement read. The second shipment of 304,800 doses will take place "next week."
France has administered two million vaccines so far. According to the latest update from the country's health agency Sante Publique France, 1,843,763 people had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by Friday. (ANI)

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