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French teachers ditch Astrazeneca jab as huge vaccination centre closes after just 50 people out of 4,000 sign up

FRENCH teachers have ditched the Astrazeneca jab as a large vaccination centre closed after just 50 people out of 4,000 signed up.

The take-up rate of just 1.25 per cent follows a series of warnings, withdrawals and U-turns about the safe and effective UK-developed medicine by President Emmanuel Macron.

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While it has been linked with a small number of blood clots, doctors and politicians in both France and Britain still believe Oxford-AstraZeneca should remain a key part of the fight against Covid-19.

But when 4,000 doses were made available to teachers and police aged over 55 in the Mediterranean city of Nice this weekend, few were interested.

“There were people who turned around when they learned that it was the AstraZeneca vaccine,” said Anne Frackowiak-Jacobs, the sub-prefect of nearby Grasse.

Confirming that this reflected ‘no confidence’ in the vaccine, Ms Frackowiak-Jacobs said the vaccine centre at the Nice Exhibition Centre had been due to stay open all weekend but instead closed on Saturday at 1pm.

On Thursday, France's total Covid-19 death toll rose to more than 100,000, and 300 people succumbed to the disease in a 24-hour period.

Mr Macron, 43, said at the time: “As all our energy is now focused on exiting this ordeal, we will not forget any face or any name.”

The whole of France is currently in lockdown, and Mr Macron has been severely criticised for the slowness of vaccine roll-out, compared to neighbours including the UK.

Some 12million people have so far received at least a first dose of vaccine against Coronavirus in France, or 18.4 per cent of the population.

This compares to around 4.5million people, or 6.6 per cent of France’s population, who have received a second dose.

Despite this, thousands of doses of the Anglo-Swedish developed Oxford AstraZeneca are being wasted following panic created by President Macron.

Figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show 4.7 million of the AstraZeneca jab have been bought by France but only 2.3 million given out.

The news comes as the latest figures from the French health ministry showed that number of coronavirus patients in intensive care units in France edged up on Sunday.

Data showed that 5,893 people were in intensive care units with Covid-19, 16 more than on Saturday.

The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital rose by 460 to 30,789, ending a streak of five consecutive daily falls.

The health ministry registered 140 new coronavirus deaths in hospitals in the space of 24 hours.

France's cumulative Covid-19 death toll breached the 100,000 mark on Thursday, the eighth-highest in the world.

Political opponents suggested the notoriously anti-Brexit president had partly questioned its safety and effectiveness so as to attack the UK.

Natacha Bouchart, the Mayor of Calais, is among those who have referred to a "wave of panic" created by Mr Macron, saying: "There really has to be a national campaign to explain that this vaccine has no more negative consequences than the ones from Pfizer or Moderna."

Mr Macron announced that the use of AstraZeneca was being suspended last month "as a precaution".

He at first said it was dangerous for people aged over 65, and then reviewed this to say that those under 55 should avoid it.

This was around the time that Mr Macron’s own prime minister, Jean Castex, was having an AstraZeneca jab.

Just 19.4 per cent of the EU’s adult population have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine so far, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s Covid Vaccine tracker.

That is compared to the UK's roll-out which has more than half of its adult population given their given jab.

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