Vaccination Is Mandatory For All Health Workers In France

Vaccination is mandatory for all health workers in France - All health care workers in France must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by September or risk not being paid, the government has announced. The requirement applies to doctors, nurses, office staff and volunteers. President Emmanuel Macron has also said that from next month, health passes will need to be shown to access places like shops, bars, cinemas and long-distance train journeys in France.

The passes show the holder has been jabbed, or had a recent negative test.
"I am aware of what I am asking of you, and I know that you are ready for this commitment, this is part, in a way, of your sense of duty," the president said in a televised address on Monday.
The mandatory vaccinations will apply to anyone who comes into contact with vulnerable people, and therefore applies to everyone who works in hospitals, clinics and care homes, regardless of their role.

They must be vaccinated by 15 September or risk not being paid, Health Minister Olivier VĂ©ran told France's LCI television.
Health passes are already used to enter some venues, such as nightclubs which reopened for the first time at the weekend. However they will be expanded to include more places including festivals, theatres and hospitals from 21 July and will apply to those aged over 12 years old.

To encourage people to get jabbed, PCR covid tests that are currently free will have to be paid for, unless accompanied with a doctor's prescription.

After the president's announcement, Doctolib, the website people use to book their jabs, crashed as so many people tried secure appointments.

France bans non-essential travel from UK
Where is the Delta variant and how is it spreading?
Cases are rising in France, with the Delta variant causing a surge in hospital admissions.
On Friday, a panel of scientists who advise the French government on health matters warned of a fourth wave in the coming months, and said as many as 95% of people may need to be vaccinated to control the spread.

However, only a little over half of the population has received a first dose and less than 40% have had two shots
Where is it, how does it spread and is it more infectious?
The majority of new coronavirus cases in the UK are the so-called Indian variant - named the Delta variant by the World Health Organization.

This version - or mutation - was first spotted in India last October.
What is the so-called Indian variant?
Viruses mutate all the time. Most variants are insignificant, but some can make a virus more contagious.

UK scientists say the Delta variant - known as B.1.617.2 - is spreading more quickly than the Kent or Alpha variant, which was behind a surge in cases over the winter.
How many cases are there and where?
There have been almost 18,000 cases of the B.1.617.2 variant in England, just under 3,000 in Scotland, 189 in Wales and 37 in Northern Ireland.
The latest Public Health England figures up to 2 June showed the worst-hit areas were:

Bolton - 2,149 cases
Blackburn with Darwen - 724

Bedford - 608
Leicester - 349
However, just because it's the most common strain doesn't always mean there's lots of it about.

In West Lancashire and East Hertfordshire, for example, in the two weeks to 29 May the variant accounted for 100% of the cases analysed for variants. But this amounted to only nine individual infections each.

Not all cases are analysed and a higher proportion are in areas with lots of the Delta variant, potentially skewing the figures.
But random swabbing carried out by the Office for National Statistics, which is not skewed in this way, also found a growing proportion of cases looked like they were the Delta variant.
Why is the Indian variant causing concern in the UK?
Is it easier to catch?
It does appear to spread more easily than the Kent variant (B.1.1.7).

Transmission rates for the Indian strain have been put at anywhere between 30 and 100% higher than for the Kent or Alpha variant.

Roughly 12% of contacts of people with the Indian variant went on to develop coronavirus, compared with 8% of those who had the so-called Kent variant, according to Public Health England analysis - suggesting it is roughly 50% more transmissible.

But some of that could be the behaviour of humans, rather than the virus itself.
When a variant spreads faster than others, it could be driven by the strain being more infectious, by differences in how close people get, or by different vaccination rates.
For instance, it's been pointed out some of the worst-affected areas have very low proportions of residents working from home.

How much faster does the Indian variant spread?
Why is the UK taking a risk with the Indian variant?
Will it stop the easing of lockdown?
Despite fears over the Indian variant, most of the UK went ahead with easing restrictions on 17 May.

However, the government has issued new guidance for people in eight areas of England with high numbers of cases
People have been advised to minimise travelling in and out of Kirklees, Bedford, Blackburn with Darwen, Bolton, Burnley, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside.

In addition, residents have been advised - wherever possible - to meet people outside, maintain social distancing of 2m (6ft) from people not in their household and work from home if they can.
It is not clear whether the next stage of easing in England will happen on 21 June, as was set out in the government's roadmap.
The prime minister and health secretary have indicated they will wait for another week's data before making a decision.

What are the latest lockdown changes?
Will other countries stop people going on holiday because the UK has it?
Many countries already have bans on people from the UK and elsewhere entering.

France has brought a ban on non-essential travel from the UK back into force in direct response to the spread of the India variant.

France bans non-essential travel from UK
France has become the latest European country to introduce restrictions on UK tourists due to the spread of the Indian coronavirus variant.
The French government has announced that from 31 May only essential travel from the UK will be allowed. A week's self-isolation is also required.

Germany imposed a two-week quarantine on UK arrivals last week. Austria has banned direct UK flights from 1 June.
By last week, the UK had recorded 3,424 cases of the B.1.617.2 variant.
That number had risen by 2,111 cases from the previous week.
England's chief medical officer, Prof Chris Whitty, has said the Indian variant is "more transmittable" than the UK variant first identified in Kent, which was responsible for the UK's deadly wave of coronavirus infections this winter.

"We expect, over time, this variant to overtake and come to dominate in the UK," he said.

However, a study earlier this week found that two injections of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines offered a similar level of protection against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant as from the Kent one. But protection after a first dose was lower in the Indian variant compared with the Kent variant, with 33% and 50% effectiveness respectively.

France, Germany and Austria are all on England's "amber" list, meaning that the government advises against travel there and passengers must quarantine upon return.

However, France had planned to allow fully vaccinated travellers from the UK - or those who had tested negative - to visit from 9 June, when travel restrictions around the EU are set to be eased. The decision to allow only essential travel, for example for bereavement or childcare, from 31 May is a setback to anyone in the UK who had planned to go on holiday in France.

UK travellers to France are already required to self-isolate in a designated hotel for seven days, but tighter quarantine restrictions, such as proof of quarantine location and possible police checks, will not be imposed.

Spain, another amber country, has already reopened to UK tourists.
Last week, the EU agreed on a pass to allow travel across the bloc's 27 countries for all those who have been fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine, recently tested negative or recovered from an infection. It is expected to launch by July.

Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs work against Indian variant - study
The Pfizer and AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines are highly effective against the variant identified in India after two doses, a study has found.
Two jabs of either vaccine give a similar level of protection against symptomatic disease from the Indian variant as they do for the Kent one.

However, both vaccines were only 33% effective against the Indian variant three weeks after the first dose.
This compared with 50% effectiveness against the Kent variant.
Public Health England, which ran the study, said the vaccines are likely to be even more effective at preventing hospital admission and deaths.
The Moderna vaccine has also been used in the UK since April but the study said the numbers who had received it were too small for them to include it in their research.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the findings made him "increasingly confident" the final stage of easing restrictions in England could take place on 21 June.
The data showed getting both doses of the vaccine was "absolutely vital", he added.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said the data was "positive" but the planned "stages" for the easing needed to be followed.

She told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "We will continue to follow the data... we all have to be conscientious... we are distancing, wearing masks, following all the rules.

"That, of course, will help us to that unlocking on 21 June."
Questioned about criticism of the timing of putting India on the travel red list, the home secretary said ministers "work with the data... and that information was presented... in the right way for the decisions to be made".

Ms Patel also defended the controls at UK borders - highlighting the pre-arrival testing requirements and saying a "vigorous system" for making sure people arriving from red list countries were quarantining was in place.
A further five people in the UK have died within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, and another 2,235 people have tested positive, Sunday's official figures showed.

More than 60 million vaccine doses have now been given, with 37,943,681 first doses administered and 22,643,417 second doses.
'Real-world evidence'
The Pfizer vaccine was found to be 88% effective at stopping symptomatic disease from the Indian variant two weeks after the second dose, compared with 93% effectiveness against the Kent variant.

The AstraZeneca jab was 60% effective against the Indian variant, compared with 66% against the Kent variant.
Public Health England (PHE) said the difference in effectiveness between the vaccines after two doses might be explained by the fact that rollout of second doses of AstraZeneca was later than for the Pfizer vaccine, which was approved first.

Other data shows it takes longer to reach maximum effectiveness with the AstraZeneca vaccine, PHE said.
Some 12,675 genome-sequenced cases were included in the study, which took place between 5 April and 16 May. Only 1,054 of those cases were of the Indian variant, known as B.1.617.2.
Dr Jenny Harries told the Andrew Marr Show the study was "very good news".

The chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency said the study is the "first real-world evidence of vaccine effectiveness" against the variant.
Asked about the discrepancy between the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine results, she said a key factor to consider was that the "different vaccines were given to slightly different groups of people".

"The Pfizer vaccine was rolled out initially, because it had to be kept at ultra-low temperatures, to - for example - healthcare workers, who tended to be younger," she said.
"This is an all-age study. Whereas AstraZeneca went out to older groups of individuals who were unable to come into main centres."

Very reassuring
As the virus changes, protection against infection was always going to be the first thing that slips.
So the fact that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines offer such a high degree of protection against the Indian variant after the second dose is very reassuring given experts expect it to become dominant.

But what are the implications of the drop in effectiveness of the first dose where the Indian variant is concerned?
Given it's expected to become the dominant variant in the UK, it's now even more important people get their second jab.
The more difficult question to answer is what this means for the speed of the route back to normality.

Its ability to evade the vaccines even by a small degree will be a factor in how more transmissible this variant is here.
There are also other biological reasons why it might find it easier to spread.

But this does not necessarily mean we will see a surge in cases and, crucially, hospital admissions - the protection vaccines give us against serious illness will be much much higher than their ability to block mild infections.
The Indian variant certainly gives the virus a bit more of an advantage, but it doesn't mean the vaccines won't win out. The study looked at data from all age groups from 5 April, to cover the period since the Indian variant emerged.

There is not enough data to estimate how effective the vaccine is against severe outcomes for the Indian variant, PHE said.
Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal, consultant medical epidemiologist at PHE and the study's lead author, said there was higher confidence in the data from the first vaccine dose than that from the second as "there are bigger numbers that have been vaccinated with one dose".

Prof Susan Hopkins, PHE's Covid-19 strategic response director, said the data trend was "quite clear" and was heading in the "right direction". More than 37 million people in the UK have now had their first vaccination, and 22 million have had their second.

Some 13,000 deaths and 39,100 hospitalisations have been prevented in the UK due to the vaccination programme up to 9 May, according to PHE analysis.

It comes as more than 1.3 million more people in England have become registered users of the NHS app since it was announced that it would allow them to show proof they had received a Covid-19 vaccine, taking its user base to 4.8 million. The app is separate from the NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing app.