The French government announced Thursday evening a third confinement in a year, more flexible than the previous ones, evoking a “third wave” in the country which is approaching the 100,000 dead mark.
More than 20 million French people will thus be re-defined for a month from Friday. Essential schools and businesses (including bookstores) will remain open.
The epidemic is accelerating markedly in the country, where more than 38,000 contaminations have been recorded in 24 hours.
Vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine will be able to resume in France on Friday, as well as in Germany, Bulgaria, Slovenia or Italy, re-confined to three quarters since Monday.
Other countries will get back to it next week, including Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands.
Like fifteen other countries, France had suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 as a precaution after reporting side effects such as bleeding disorders and clot formation.
“Safe and efficient”
On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) deemed the Swedish-British vaccine “safe and effective” in a highly anticipated opinion since the European Union, in the midst of a shortage, is counting on millions of doses of this vaccine.
The Amsterdam-based European regulator “concluded that the vaccine was not associated with an increased overall risk of thromboembolic events or blood clots,” EMA executive director Emer Cooke also said during a videoconference.
“We welcome the decisions of the regulators which affirm the benefit of our vaccine to stop the pandemic”, reacted in a statement Ann Taylor, chief medical officer of AstraZenaca.
Norway and Sweden will wait until their own assessments are done next week to resume vaccination, as a Norwegian medical team says they see a link between the product and blood clots seen in critically ill and even deceased patients. a few days after a first injection.
An opinion from the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) of the World Health Organization (WHO) is also expected on Friday about this vaccine.
In the United States, the pace of vaccination has accelerated dramatically in recent weeks, currently with 2.4 million doses administered per day on average.
US President Joe Biden announced that the United States will meet its goal of 100 million injections during the first 100 days of his mandate on Friday, more than a month in advance.
Across the Atlantic, the UK announced a reduction in vaccine supplies in April, which could slow its vaccination campaign, one of the most advanced in the world.
According to British media, the supply problem is due to a delay in the delivery of five million doses produced in India by the Serum Institute for AstraZeneca.
The European Commission, for its part, has announced that it will activate a contractual procedure to resolve the dispute with AstraZeneca, whose deliveries are significantly lower than expected.
402.3 million doses
Despite these setbacks, vaccination continued to accelerate. At least 402.3 million doses have been administered worldwide, including more than a quarter in the United States, according to an AFP count stopped Thursday at 4.30 p.m. GMT.
The epidemic situation remains “particularly” worrying in the Balkans and central Europe, according to the WHO, at a time when the number of cases in Europe is increasing for the third consecutive week.
“The number of people dying from Covid-19 in Europe is higher today than it was at the same time last year,” said WHO European director Hans Kluge.
The pandemic has killed at least 2.68 million people worldwide, according to an AFP report on Thursday, and many countries are in a race against time with the virus.
Italy commemorated the more than 103,000 dead from the Covid-19 epidemic on Thursday, with flags at half mast on public buildings.
In Germany, also affected by a third wave, the government called on the population to be “responsible” and not to travel to the popular Spanish island of Mallorca, despite the charter of hundreds of tourist flights.
Several German regional officials on Thursday urged European authorities to speed up the examination of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V and to anticipate its deployment in the EU.
Bulgaria, which has so far boasted of flexible measures in the face of the pandemic, on Thursday announced a tightening of its restrictions.
In Ukraine, the mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitchko, announced the strengthening of restrictions in the capital from Saturday for three weeks.
In Chile, a strict re-containment of a third of the country entered into force on Thursday, despite the rapid progress of the vaccination campaign in that country.
Bombay: record of daily contaminations since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic
India’s richest state Maharashtra, including its capital Bombay, recorded the highest number of new daily Covid-19 infections on Friday since the start of the pandemic. Maharashtra on Friday announced a record number of 25,833 new cases, including 2,877 in the financial capital and megalopolis Bombay.
India has recorded nearly 40,000 new cases, nearly double the previous week, but less than half of the peak of nearly 100,000 cases recorded in September.
Several hard-hit states, including Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, have imposed further restrictions, including on travel and public gatherings in some cities.
However, “there will be no containment in the state,” Gujarat Prime Minister Vijay Rupani said Thursday.
The vast Asian country of 1.3 billion people was overtaken this month by Brazil as the second most contaminated country, after a sharp decline in new cases of Covid-19 in December and January.
Major nationwide restrictions last year, including a multi-month lockdown, have mostly been lifted, and huge religious and political rallies have taken place.
In midweek, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi alerted regional leaders calling on them to increase testing and institute measures to prevent an emerging second wave of Covid-19 and an increase in cases nationwide.
“We must stop this nascent second wave of the pandemic by taking swift and decisive action,” Modi said during a video conference with regional leaders on the health crisis.
“In the past few weeks, some 70 districts have recorded a rise of more than 150% in the number of cases and if we do not stop the epidemic immediately it will become national,” he added.
India has so far administered nearly 40 million vaccines, and aims to immunize 300 million people by the end of July. The country has recorded more than 11.5 million cases of Covid-19 in total and nearly 160,000 deaths.