Paris (AFP)

All new deliveries to France of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccines provided for by the contract with the laboratory are now shifted to donations to developing countries, the Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.

"We stopped deliveries so as to direct doses to donations," the ministry explained during an online press briefing on the vaccination campaign.

This week "about 1 million doses of AstraZeneca" must be delivered, which will be "100% directed to Covax", the international solidarity device, added a representative of the Ministry of the Economy and Finance.

4.5 million doses from the Anglo-Swedish laboratory expected in August will know the same destination.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, which uses viral vector technology, has been in use in the campaign since early February.

But its use was quickly restricted to those over 55 due to very rare but serious side effects.

These reports have led to a relative disaffection of the population for this vaccine, resulting in rates of use of doses significantly lower than those of RNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna).

As of July 12, the Covax system, which was supposed to guarantee equitable access to both rich and disadvantaged countries to anti-Covid vaccines, had distributed more than 102 million doses of vaccines in 135 countries.

Since April, France has "sold nearly 5 million doses via Covax", with "a gradual increase in donations", said the representative of Bercy: 100,000 doses in April, 500,000 in May, 2.5 million in June and "nearly 3.5 million" expected in July.

"It will continue to increase in the weeks and months to come", he added, indicating in particular that France "wishes to be able to give Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines before the end of the summer".

© 2021 AFP