The vaccine booster, for whom and when? Wednesday’s Defense Council could provide answers to this question made urgent by the acceleration of the Covid-19 epidemic, of which the contamination of Jean Castex is a symbolic example.
This government meeting will allow “to address the question of the extension of the third dose of the vaccine, considering the recommendations that we have obtained from the various scientific and health authorities”, indicated on Tuesday the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, during the launch of the Restos du Coeur winter campaign.
The last few days have indeed been marked by a flurry of recommendations.
On Friday, the High Authority for Health (HAS), responsible for inspiring government policy, recommended injecting the booster dose (most often a third dose) from the age of 40, six months after the full vaccination.
Logically, the government should therefore endorse this measure on Wednesday.
“There are very few forties who are already six months away from the second dose, it will happen gradually in December. So, it gives us the opportunity to organize ourselves if the decision is confirmed tomorrow (Wednesday)”, commented Mr. Véran, while refusing to “reveal in advance decisions that have not been recorded”.
– “How do we speed up?” –
Two other advisory bodies, the Scientific Council and the Vaccine Strategy Orientation Council, have gone even further.
They are considering a booster for all adults to “curb the epidemic and reduce the number of severe forms”, since the effectiveness of vaccines against the infection declines over time.
For now, the recall only concerns people over 65, people at risk of severe forms and caregivers. For 50-64 year olds, the booster will be available from December 1, as President Emmanuel Macron announced in early November.
“The question is: + How do we accelerate after the opinions of experts? +”, A government source told AFP on Tuesday, according to which we must “ensure that the recall schedule is clear for all with installments of age”.
However, it is “not sure that there will be an announcement on the recall for all adults” as of Wednesday, added this source.
There is no consensus among scientists on systematic recall for all adults.
Some argue that two doses are still very effective against severe forms and that the urgency is to vaccinate those who have not had any dose (6 million people).
– Castex in isolation –
One of the other challenges for the Defense Council will be to know from when the recall will be necessary to extend the health pass according to age.
For those over 65, this mechanism should in principle start on December 15. From this date, their pass will be deactivated if they have not had a booster dose six months and five weeks after their previous injection.
But the president of the Scientific Council, Jean-François Delfraissy, assured Monday to have “pushed” to advance this date to “the middle of next week”.
In addition, the Defense Council could decide to make the mask compulsory again in certain places, including theaters.
All these measures are mentioned at a time when contamination is soaring. The daily number of cases (averaged over 7 days) doubled in ten days, from 9,500 on November 13 to 19,000 on Tuesday.
“Today, we will announce 30,000 cases over 24 hours,” said Mr. Véran to the National Assembly. The figures for Tuesday are however still high since they include people who could not be tested on Sunday (only 5,000 positive cases were thus identified on Monday evening).
Among these newly infected is Prime Minister Jean Castex, tested positive Monday in the wake of his 11-year-old daughter.
“With the exception of slight symptoms, I am doing well and continue to perform my duties in isolation,” he assured on Twitter.
Another indicator of epidemic recovery: closed classes. According to the Minister of National Education Jean-Michel Blanquer, there are currently 6,000, against 4,000 last Friday.