French health minister: Anyone who has had Covid only needs one vaccine dose

France's health minister has formalised the vaccine policy for people who have had and recovered from Covid, and announced that vaccine centres will be equipped with antibody tests to test everybody before they are vaccinated.

French health minister: Anyone who has had Covid only needs one vaccine dose
Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

It had previously been the recommendation that people who had been diagnosed with Covid only needed a single dose of the double-dose vaccines – Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

However, now vaccine centres in France will be equipped with the finger-prick antibody tests which can detect whether a person has ever had Covid.

These will be offered to all, so that people who have had Covid without realising it can be identified and will only need a single injection.

READ ALSO What to expect at your vaccine appointment (and what to do if you don’t have a carte vitale)

Dominique Le Guludec, president of the French medical regulator Haute Autorité de Santé, told RMC radio: “We propose, at the time of the first dose, the finger-prick test to see if you have antibodies to determine the need for a second dose.

“This can avoid a second dose for many people who will be delighted.”

Health minister Olivier Véran added that this could affect between 5 and 6 million people who would only need one dose.

Anyone who has had Covid cannot be vaccinated in France until three months after they recovered.

Le Geludec added: “If you have had Covid, yes you should be vaccinated… However, not immediately, we have advised three to six months after a symptomatic form of the virus.

“These patients are protected for a certain period of time. On the other hand, we also know, with the more robust data since our opinion, that one dose is enough.”

People who only need one dose of the vaccine are given a vaccination certificate marked with a second dose, so that they show up as ‘fully vaccinated’ on France’s health passport, which from next week can be used to enter concerts and sports matches as well as some types of international travel.

READ ALSO How France’s health passport will work this summer 

The health passport also allows people to upload a recent negative Covid test, or proof of having recently recovered from Covid – the accepted proof is a positive PCR or antigen test more than 15 days and less than 6 months old, and a follow-up negative test.

People who had Covid more than six months ago, or who never got a test while they were ill, cannot use the recovery option.

French president Emmanuel Macron, who caught Covid in December, has recently announced that he has now been vaccinated but, unlike many other politicians, declined to post a topless vaccine selfie.

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Lengthy waiting times at Danish hospitals not going away yet: minister

Danish Minister for the Interior and Health Sophie Løhde has warned that, despite increasing activity at hospitals, it will be some time before current waiting lists are reduced.

Lengthy waiting times at Danish hospitals not going away yet: minister

The message comes as Løhde was set to meet with officials from regional health authorities on Wednesday to discuss the progress of an acute plan for the Danish health system, launched at the end of last year in an effort to reduce a backlog of waiting times which built up during the coronavirus crisis.

An agreement with regional health authorities on an “acute” spending plan to address the most serious challenges faced by the health services agreed in February, providing 2 billion kroner by the end of 2024.

READ ALSO: What exactly is wrong with the Danish health system?

The national organisation for the health authorities, Danske Regioner, said to newspaper Jyllands-Posten earlier this week that progress on clearing the waiting lists was ahead of schedule.

Some 245,300 operations were completed in the first quarter of this year, 10 percent more than in the same period in 2022 and over the agreed number.

Løhde said that the figures show measures from the acute plan are “beginning to work”.

“It’s positive but even though it suggests that the trend is going the right way, we’re far from our goal and it’s important to keep it up so that we get there,” she said.

“I certainly won’t be satisfied until waiting times are brought down,” she said.

“As long as we are in the process of doing postponed operations, we will unfortunately continue to see a further increase [in waiting times],” Løhde said.

“That’s why it’s crucial that we retain a high activity this year and in 2024,” she added.

Although the government set aside 2 billion kroner in total for the plan, the regional authorities expect the portion of that to be spent in 2023 to run out by the end of the summer. They have therefore asked for some of the 2024 spending to be brought forward.

Løhde is so far reluctant to meet that request according to Jyllands-Posten.