France - Covid-19

Bordeaux expands vaccination drive as rare Covid variant detected

Rare Covid variant detected in Bordeaux spurs health authorities to ramp up vaccination drive
Rare Covid variant detected in Bordeaux spurs health authorities to ramp up vaccination drive © TV5Monde

The French city of Bordeaux is to fast-track vaccinations for residents in one neighbourhood, opening access the jab for all adults after nearly 50 people tested positive for a "very rare" variant of Covid-19.

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All adult residents of Bordeaux's northern Bacalan neighbourhood will be granted "unconditional" access to jabs, "this weekend or at worst early next week".

Patrick Dehail, medical adviser to the regional health authority, said: "We are working with the health ministry to obtain the extra doses required," adding that the boosted local effort will then be expanded to the wider Bordeaux area.

Covid variant similar to UK strain

The variant has already been identified on a national level in France but it has reportedly been very rare until now. 

At least 46 people have been infected with the variant in Bordeaux, with mass testing launched on Friday to track down further cases.

None of those infected so far have been hospitalised.

Labelled VOC 20I/484Q, the strain is related to the British variant of Covid-19, but with an additional mutation.

The mutation is also carried by the South African and Brazilian variants and is suspected of reducing the immunity acquired by either a past infection or by some vaccines.

However, the regional health authority says there is no reason as yet to suggest the variant is resistant to mRNA vaccines such as those made by Pfizer or Moderna.

The mutation has also been detected in the northern Paris region.

Vaccinations in France have so far been limited to the over-50s, although people outside this age group can book unused slots advertised at short notice. 

From 31 May, all adults will be eligible for vaccinations across the country. 

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