France - Covid-19

France recommends single dose of vaccine if previous Covid infection detected

French Health Minister Olivier Véran speaking in Melun earlier this year
French Health Minister Olivier Véran speaking in Melun earlier this year AP - Thomas Samson

France's health authority says that people who have been exposed to Covid-19 only need to have one dose of the vaccination. It recommends that people receiving their first shot should be tested for traces of a past infection, a measure that would free up "several million" additional doses.

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Speaking on French television earlier this week, Minister of Health Olivier Véran announced that he would push the recommendation forward, with the aim of equipping vaccination centres with "rapid serological tests to detect the presence of antibodies" over the month of June. 

If people test positive for Covid antibodies, a single dose of vaccine will be sufficient.

The health authority recommends carrying out "pre-vaccination serology" with a rapid test, known as a TROD: a drop of blood is taken from the tip of the finger and within 15 minutes the result indicates whether the person is already a carrier of coronavirus antibodies, showing the individual has been in contact with the virus.

In the event of a positive test, the appointment for the second dose will be cancelled.

Once the fast serology tests are rolled out, "a significant reserve" of several million doses would be made available to speed up the innoculation of the population against Covid.

According to studies modelling the epidemic undertaken  by the Pasteur Institute, more than 22 percent of people in mainland France have been infected with Covid-19, with more than 40 percent in the Ile-de-France region which includes Paris and its suburbs.

Back in February, the health authiority had recommended a single dose vaccination in cases of proven infection.

Since then new scientific research has confirmed that people who have been infected by the virus will be protected by a single jab. 

Research on interchangability of mRNA vaccines launched

Meanwhile, a trial will be launched across France in the coming days on the interchangeability of messenger RNA vaccines, to test the viability of being vaccinated with a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and a second dose of Moderna, or vice-versa.

A total of 400 participants, all aged over 18, are expected to take part in the trial.

In April, Health Minister Véran had said he was considering the interchangeability of mRNA vaccines in order to "simplify" the vaccination campaign in France.

At the same time, the French government has decided that people under 55 years of age who have been vaccinated with a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine would now receive a second dose of a mRNA vaccine.

For its part, the World Health Organisation has indicated that due to the lack of adequate data, it could not yet make a recommendation on changing the Covid vaccine between two doses.

This comes as President Emmanuel Macron announced during the week that the vaccination of teenagers will get underway from 15 June. 

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