PARIS — French Health Minister Olivier Veran received the first injection of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine Monday at a hospital near Paris, arguing it was providing enough protection against almost all virus spreading in the country.
France received its first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines last week, representing 273,600 doses all reserved for health professionals under 65, which includes Veran, a neurologist.
Veran’s comments come after South Africa has suspended plans to inoculate its front-line health care workers with the AstraZeneca vaccine as a small clinical trial suggested that it isn’t effective in preventing mild to moderate illness from the variant dominant in the country.
Veran said “at least 99%” of the virus circulating in France do not correspond to the variant widely spread in South Africa, which makes the AstraZeneca vaccine effective on the French territory.
Veran said new measures are being implemented to avoid further spreading of variants imported from other parts of the world, including the one that was first identified in the U.K.
The period of self-isolation for any person infected with one of the variants, or suspected to be, has been extended from 7 to 10 days, he said.
Measures also include quicker contact tracing efforts and instructions to close school classes as soon as one student has been infected with a variant.