France: Citizens rush to get vaccinated ahead of Christmas

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At her pharmacy in central Paris, Mireille Gran shows the almost empty shelves, where normally stacked self tests for COVID-19 would be found. There are only five tests left …

“Only these are left. This is due to the rapid increase in many, many cases of COVID tracking. We had to do a lot of tests,” he says.

Pharmacies across France say they have run out of self-tests for the coronavirus as cases rise and citizens are struggling to ensure their loved ones are not at risk of becoming infected once they meet during the holiday season.

Nearly 5.3 million PCR and antigen tests were performed between November 9 and December 5, according to official figures, the highest number in months and an increase of 31% from the previous week, which was about 38% higher than a week earlier.

Only about two million diagnostic tests were performed in the last week of October, but the number of tests has grown steadily since then.

“Many have gone through the test and made sure (that they have not been infected with coronavirus) about the rallies, to go and see their families,” says Gran.

Gran has ordered new tests but delivery is delayed longer than usual, she says, as the country’s pharmacies struggle to secure more tests. Usually she has in stock 30 packs of 25 tests.

France is experiencing an increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, although, thanks to one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe, hospitals are less overcrowded than in previous pandemics.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Olivier Veran announced that 12.5 million people in France have been vaccinated with the third dose, and that number is expected to reach 20 million by Christmas.

This increases the workload for pharmacies, which are encouraged by health authorities to remain open on Sundays so that more people can be vaccinated.

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