As France grapples with a rise in COVID-19 cases and the influx of the new mutant strain from South Africa, French Health Minister Oliver Veran has justified the French government's decision not to impose a third national lockdown. On Monday, the death toll rose to 79,423 which put France seventh in the list of highest death tolls.
"For three weeks, we have had (on average) 20,000 new cases per day and 3,000-3,200 patients in intensive care units. It's stable but high...It does not call for national lockdown measures," Reuters quoted Veran as saying in an interview to France Info radio.
The minister pinned his hopes on the AstraZeneca vaccine and predicted that 3.5 - 4 million people in France would receive a vaccine dose by the end of February. However, experts have raised concerns regarding the new mutant strain of COVID-19 from South Africa, which Veran assured was closely monitored. The government hopes that restrictions like social-distancing and other preventative measures will suffice, he added.
France is continuing to use the AstraZeneca vaccine, said the minister who revived his shot on Monday. AstraZeneca vaccine was rolled back in South Africa following reports that it provided minimal protection against mild to moderate strains of the virus. French health authorities have already begun warning of the healthcare system's possible overload as the cumulative number of those infected crossed 3.3 million with 28,037 hospitalised.