Pregnant women, people under the age of 60 “at risk” and those living in the entourage of fragile people are now concerned by the second booster dose of anti-Covid vaccine. Following the advice of the scientific authorities (Haute Autorité de santé and the Vaccine Strategy Guidance Council), the government has decided to extend the vaccine booster in an “epidemiological context which remains worrying, with highly contagious variants”, a explained on Wednesday July 20 the Minister of Health, François Braun, during a press briefing.
This extension concerns approximately 5 million people, which brings the number of French people eligible for this second booster dose to around 17 million. Until now, only people over 60 and immunocompromised people had access to it, or some 12 million people. Of these, around 4 million received a second booster.
Possible from three months
This additional booster dose is possible from three months after the first booster for the most fragile (over 80 years old, nursing home residents or severely immunocompromised). For others, it can be administered six months after the first booster. And, “in the event of infection between the first and the second booster, we can do a second booster shot three months after the infection,” said the Minister of Health.
Asked if the government was planning to issue a second recall to the general population in the fall, the minister replied: “Clearly not. “Today, there is no likely scenario that would extend the second recall to everyone, although caution should be exercised,” he continued.
He also delivered the injection figures for the vaccine from the American laboratory Novavax, based on classic technology. “We expected significant figures, this is not what we observed”, conceded François Braun. “Only 28,000 doses of this vaccine have been injected since March, it’s very few, but it’s still a useful vaccine,” he said. According to the latest opinion from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), dated July 14, the Novavax vaccine could cause severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis).
“The pandemic is not over”
The pandemic “is not over”, warned in its probable last opinion, published on Wednesday, the Covid-19 scientific council. “We must expect the appearance of new variants of SARS-CoV-2 in the human population”, warns the body, which, for nearly two and a half years, has guided the executive in its health decisions and must be replaced at the end of the month by a “committee for monitoring and anticipating health risks”.
In this advisory titled “Living with Variants” and dated Tuesday, July 19, the council emphasizes that the virus “now enjoys a human reservoir large enough for endemic circulation in the human population.” According to him, “this circulation could over the next few years remain at high levels” and “be accompanied by epidemic outbreaks associated with the emergence of new variants, more accentuated in the autumn-winter period”.
While he cannot predict which variant will be dominant, he hopes that population immunity acquired through vaccines and infections will allow “increasing protection against severe forms of Covid-19”.