France launches AstraZeneca inoculations as Covid-19 cases ease

France on Saturday reported a decline in new COVID-19 infections and the number of patients treated in hospitals, which eased the pressure on the healthcare system as the country rolled out shots with a third approved vaccine.

The country registered 20,586 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, down from 22,139 the previous day, marking the third straight daily case.

Hospitals treated 27,369 people for the disease, a decrease of 245 compared to the previous day in a fourth daily case.

The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care decreased to 3,225, which was 20 fewer than the previous day, data show.

The government has resisted demands from health experts to introduce a new national suspension, but the level of new cases per day has been relatively stable at over 20,000.

The number of people in France who have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine has reached 1.86 million, and 247,260 have also received their second dose, the Ministry of Health said.

France has received a batch of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, with 273,600 doses delivered, the ministry said in a statement.

The first AstraZeneca pictures are reserved for healthcare professionals under the age of 65, with the first injections taking place on Saturday.

A second batch of 304,800 doses will be delivered next week.

AstraZeneca is the third shot made available in France after Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna.

France is relying on the AstraZeneca shot to speed up a slow-start vaccination campaign. However, it may receive fewer deliveries than originally hoped after a production failure triggered a line between the company and the European Union.

The ministry reported 191 new deaths linked to COVID-19, bringing France’s cumulative death toll in hospitals and nursing homes to 78,794.