France

French Doctors Warn Against Vaccinating Healthy Children

The French Academy of Medicine has advised against vaccinating healthy children, claiming that the benefits do not outweigh the risks. A similar stance was taken by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation in the U.K., but the Government ignored this advice. The Express has the story.

The increase in reported cases across Europe has been used by politicians to renew their push for mass vaccination. It has also reawakened debate about the jabbing of healthy children against the virus.

But the French Academy of Medicine (FAM) insists the country’s vaccine roll-out should not extend to all healthy children.

It has advised that, for many children, the risk-benefit balance weighs against vaccination.

The 200 year-old advisory body, quoted in 20 Minutes, said in a statement that it “recommends extending immunisation against Covid by the vaccine to children at risk of severe forms of the disease due to co-morbidities, whatever their age, as well as to other children living in their family and school environment”.

It does not believe that healthy children outside of this bracket should be vaccinated against Covid.

Responding to the FAM’s statement, Daily Sceptic Editor Toby Young told the Express: “It’s becoming increasingly clear that for healthy children the risk of being vaccinated outweighs the benefit.”

He added: “Governments need to stop putting pressure on children to be vaccinated.”

Pressure is building on European citizens, including some healthy children, to get vaccinated against Covid amid warnings of a deadly fifth Covid wave.

Those who have not received Covid vaccines have been locked down in Austria, and Germany is set to follow…

In September, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advised that the U.K. Government took the “precautionary approach” of not vaccinating healthy children aged 12 to 15 years-old because the benefits of vaccination were not greater than the risks.

Soon after, England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, told the Government to ignore this advice, arguing that this age group should be vaccinated because of the benefits to their mental health.

Worth reading in full.

French Study Suggests That Long Covid is Mostly Psychosomatic

Long Covid was initially believed to affect one in every ten people who catch the virus. However, estimates have since come down considerably. In September of this year, the ONS published research indicating that only 2.5% of people still report symptoms after 12 weeks.

As I noted in a write-up for the Daily Sceptic, even this 2.5% figure is probably an overestimate, since it assumes that every participant reported their symptoms accurately. Due to media attention surrounding long Covid, some participants might have been inclined to exaggerate their symptoms – to report things they normally wouldn’t have done.

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that the 2.5% figure is an overestimate. Joane Matta and colleagues analysed data on a sample of about 27,000 French people, who were given serology (i.e., antibody) tests between May and November of 2020.

The same individuals took a questionnaire between December 2020 and January 2021. In that questionnaire, they were asked, “Since March, do you think you have been infected by the coronavirus (whether or not confirmed by a physician or a test)?”

Respondents who answered “Yes” were also asked when they caught the virus. Those who indicated that they caught it after their serology test were excluded from the analysis. Additionally, all respondents were asked to say whether they had experienced each of 18 different symptoms since March of 2020.

The main results are shown in the table below. There are four columns, corresponding to different combinations of belief and serology. The two on the left correspond to a negative test, while the two on the right correspond to a positive test. The belief columns indicate whether respondents believed they had been infected.

There are two main things to notice. First, if we compare the column on the left (for people with a negative test who believed they had not been infected) to the two columns on the right (for people with a positive test), we see that the percentages are about the same. The only exception is anosmia, shown in the final row.

In order to do this, you have to compute a ‘mental weighted average’ of the two columns on the right. For example, 7.3% of people in the first column had joint pain, while the corresponding percentage for the last two columns is 6.5% (the weighted average of 4.2 and 8.2).

These comparisons indicate that respondents who tested positive for Covid antibodies were not, in general, more likely to report symptoms than those who tested negative. (The only symptom they were more likely to report was anosmia.)

The second thing to notice is that, if we compare the two “Belief +” columns to the two “Belief –” columns, we see that the percentages tend to be higher in the former. This indicates that people who believed they had been infected reported were more likely to report symptoms, regardless of whether they actually had been infected.

The researchers estimated multivariate models that controlled for characteristics like age, sex and education, and observed the same pattern of results. Believing that one had had Covid was associated with reporting symptoms, but actually having had Covid was not (with the exception of anosmia).

Matta and colleagues’ findings are consistent with earlier studies based on young people, which found little or no difference in symptoms between those who were seropositive and those who were seronegative. Long Covid, it seems, is mostly psychosomatic.

Sajid Javid Refuses to Rule Out Use of France-Style Vaccine Passports For Those Who Refuse the Booster Shot

The Health Secretary has refused to rule out the possibility of adopting a France-style vaccine passport system, which entails receiving the booster shot in order to be labelled as ‘fully vaccinated’. In a recent interview with Sky News, Javid couldn’t say for certain whether the scheme wouldn’t be introduced “potentially in the future”. If such a policy were to become law, it would mean that those who are offered the booster shot (such as those over the age of 65 years-old) but refuse, would be denied entry to certain venues. The Independent has the story.

Asked if making a third jab part of a Covid pass is “something that you might look at”, Javid replied: “We’re not looking at that yet.

“I think, in due course, we will have to look at what constitutes vaccination, but at this point the most important thing is that anyone that’s eligible gets out there and gets their booster.”

Pressed on whether the curb could be introduced “potentially in the future”, the Health Secretary told Sky News: “I can’t rule that out.

“We know now that the vaccines do wane and it’s important that, where it’s necessary, that those people get a top up. I think it’s something that we have to keep under review.”

Covid passes have been introduced in Wales, and are now being extended to cinemas and theatres, while Scotland requires proof of double vaccination for crowded venues.

A similar plan was shelved in England, but is part of the Government’s ‘Plan B’ should Covid hospitalisations and deaths rise sharply over the winter.

If introduced, it would require proof of vaccination for “indoor crowded settings with 500 or more attendees such as music venues or large receptions”, including all nightclubs.

The events would be those where people “are likely to be in close proximity to people from other households”, the winter plan set out.

“Outdoor, crowded settings with 4,000 or more attendees” and “any settings with 10,000 or more attendees, such as large sports and music stadia”, including top football matches, would also be covered.

Worth reading in full.

Brit Thrown off Eurostar by Armed French Police for Wearing “Wrong Type of Mask”

A British man travelling back to England from France on Eurostar on Thursday was surrounded by armed French police and left stranded in Lille after being reported by the service’s manager for wearing the “wrong type of mask”. MailOnline has the story.

Eurostar requires all passengers to wear a mask onboard but a spokesman today said that there were no rules specifying what kind of masks must be worn. 

Other passengers on the service said that the female manager of the train took a dislike to the man after an exchange of words, and ordered the service to stop so he could be arrested.   

“I’ve done nothing wrong and respect all Coronavirus rules – this is absolutely outrageous,” he said, as he was led away in front of other stunned passengers on Thursday afternoon. …

Other passengers then complained about the unscheduled, unannounced stop in Lille that caused a 15 minutes delay.

“Why is Eurostar stopping its trains, and delaying hundreds of passengers, because of a petty dispute over one man’s mask?” said one.

The female Eurostar manager, who remained on the train after the man was taken into custody, confirmed she had reported him for wearing the “wrong type of mask” for preventing the spread of Coronavirus. …

Within minutes of departure [from Paris] the Eurostar manager was involved in a heated argument with the man.

She accused him of not complying with health and safety regulations, and said the black mask he was wearing was not appropriate.

All Eurostar passengers are expected to wear masks at all times, except for when they are eating or drinking.

There was a buffet on the train, and many of the passengers in Coach 13 – where the man was sitting alone by a window in a two-seat row – had removed their masks completely as they had sandwiches and drinks with them.

Despite this, the manager berated the man, and then used a radio to summon another member of staff. …

The businessman… replaced his black mask with a standard blue one provided by another passenger. He apologised, and appeared to have escaped any further action.

But when the train got to Lille it made an unscheduled stop, and three armed officers boarded, while the others waiting on the platform. …

[Another passenger said:] “The Eurostar woman was telling the police what to do, and insisting that the poor guy should be removed, like he was some kind of criminal.

“He was actually being very reasonable, and not swearing or acting in any kind of disruptive way at all – everybody else was on his side, but he was marched off and we didn’t see him again.”

Worth reading in full.

Footage of the Protests in Paris Last Saturday

A filmmaker based in France has sent us some highly professional footage she recorded at last Saturday’s anti-Health Pass protest in Paris, featuring lots of vox pops with the protestors. The reaction of the French riot police to the peaceful protestors is extremely aggressive, reminiscent of the Met’s Territorial Support Group. Hats off to these brave men and women standing up for their civil liberties.

Video from odysee.

France No Longer ‘Amber-Plus’ and Seven Countries Added to Green List

Good news for holidaymakers. France has been removed from the ‘amber-plus’ list and seven countries have been added to the green list, bringing the total up to 36. BBC News has more.

France will not be on England’s amber-plus list from 04:00 BST on Sunday, meaning fully vaccinated arrivals will no longer have to quarantine.

The country was put on the list last month, amid concerns about the Beta variant, which scientists believe may be more resistant to vaccines.

At the same time, seven countries have been added to the green list for travel including Germany, Austria and Norway.

The transport secretary said the country “must continue to be cautious”.

Despite prior speculation, Spain will remain on the amber list, enabling travellers who are fully vaccinated to continue to enjoy a quarantine-free return.

However, travellers arriving in the UK from Spain are now advised to take a PCR test – rather than the cheaper lateral flow tests – for the mandatory pre-departure test as a “precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country”.

There were already 29 countries or territories on the green list, bringing the total to 36.

Will this be enough to save the summer? Travel industry bosses don’t think so.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of the industry body Airlines U.K., said the announcement was “another missed opportunity” with U.K. travel opening up “far slower” than the rest of Europe.

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of EasyJet, said he was disappointed but the news provided “some reassurance” to customers – after days of uncertainty around which list countries would be on which list.

The Government must also fix the expensive testing regime, he added.

The U.K. was still a long way from a meaningful restart of international travel, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, Karen Dee said.

And Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA – the association of travel agents and tour operators – said the “snail’s pace” movement failed to capitalise on the success of the vaccination programme.

Worth reading in full.

A handy guide from MailOnline.

“You’d Have to be Crackers to Book a Holiday”

A raging battle has erupted in the Cabinet over plans for a danger list of countries that could see destinations like Spain and Italy suddenly move to red. MailOnline has more.

The plans for a new ‘amber watch list’ sparked outrage in Whitehall as some ministers believe it could ruin the holiday hopes of millions of Britons.

The idea, which was agreed in principle this week, would see holidaymakers warned that while they are abroad certain amber countries could go straight on to the red list.

This would leave them facing compulsory hotel quarantine on their return, at a cost of £1,750 a head.

Spain and Italy both featured in talks about countries that could be put into the new category – as soon as next week – amid fears about the Beta variant, which first emerged in South Africa.

Senior ministers, including Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, are said to have reservations about imposing further disruption on the beleaguered travel sector.

Mr Shapps urged people to “ignore speculation” ahead of decisions next week. But behind the scenes a battle is raging.

One Whitehall source said: “You would have to be crackers to book a holiday to a place knowing that it could go on to the red list at any moment.

“If you have already booked to go there you are going to spend your whole holiday worrying whether you are going to have to make a dash to the airport to get home.

“The decision next week will basically be in place for August. It is peak holiday season – are we really going to cause that much disruption to this many people?”

Worth reading in full.

Unvaccinated French Pupils Will Be Sent Home if Classmate Tests Positive for Covid

As if plans to separate vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens in France didn’t already go far enough, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer has announced that children as young as 12 who have not been vaccinated will be booted out of school if a classmate tests positive for Covid while those who have been ‘jabbed’ will be allowed to stay. Connexion has the story.

Vaccinated students will continue to go to school in person if a Covid case is discovered in their class while unvaccinated students will have to study from home for seven days, Blanquer said [on Wednesday].

The minister was discussing new health rules to be put in place in schools from September.

This rule will apply to students aged 12 and over, who are currently eligible for Covid vaccines. 

Primary schools will follow the same rules as in the last school year, meaning if a Covid case is detected in a class all students in the class will then study from home for seven days. 

However, Mr Blanquer added that he was “fairly sure that there would be less disruption in the coming school year”.

In order to boost vaccination rates among secondary school students 6,000-7,000 vaccination centres will be opened from September “in or next to” schools, the Education Minister added.

Four health scenarios (“Green”, “Yellow”, “Orange” and “Red”) have also been planned for the coming academic year, depending on the health situation.

“In the lightest [Green] scenario there will be no masks in primary schools – but I fear that this will not be the case in September,” Mr Blanquer said.

The Education Ministry website says that, at the Green level, masks would still be required indoors for secondary school pupils in colleges and lycées.

At the Yellow level, primary school children would also have to wear masks indoors, and at the Orange and Red levels students of all ages would have to wear masks indoors and outdoors. …

The Health Ministry rejected the idea of using health passes to allow entry into schools for staff and students who are eligible for vaccines.

It also rejected the idea of making vaccination mandatory for teachers [*]for the moment[*].

Worth reading in full.

Holidays Ruined for Millions of Brits if Spain and Greece are Forced on to “Amber Plus” List

Reports suggest that the Government is considering demoting both Spain and Greece to the “Amber Plus” List alongside France due to fears over Covid variants, a decision that could ruin the holiday plans of millions of Brits – and not for the first time. MailOnline has the story.

The list effectively strips back ‘Freedom Day’ rules, which allow [fully vaccinated] holidaymakers to return from “Amber List” countries without having to face a mandatory period of self-isolation.

But, just days before the new rules were to be announced, the Government threw tens of thousands of holidays into doubt by revealing that double-jabbed Britons returning from France would still have to quarantine.

Now Greece and Spain, both of which are currently on the Amber List, could follow France onto the so-called Amber Plus List.

But, according to figures released by Labour, that could leave an estimated 5,857,558 people facing the prospect of last-minute quarantine requirements – plunging the holidays into “chaos once more”. 

The Government introduced an exemption for the requirement to isolate at home for 10 days for fully-vaccinated holidaymakers returning from countries on the amber list.

But ministers removed the exemption for France amid concerns over the Beta variant, creating what critics call an Amber Plus designation on the traffic light system for foreign travel.

There has been speculation that Greece and Spain could face the same measures as France, though the Government has not confirmed this. …

The opposition estimated the number of people to have booked holidays to those three nations by looking at official data for past travel and adjusting for lower willingness to travel during the pandemic by comparing with surveys.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The travel list allocations have not changed for Spain or Greece.

“We are closely monitoring the data and will take swift action on travel list allocations and international travel requirements should the data show that countries’ risk to England has changed.”

It comes as holidaymakers faced up to three-hour queues through passport control at Heathrow Airport yesterday after e-gates broke down and the ‘pingdemic’ left just one official at the desks, according to frustrated passengers.

Worth reading in full.

Thousands March Against Vaccine Passports in France

Thousands have taken to the streets in France to protest against President Emmanuel Macron’s extreme plans to force all health workers to get vaccinated against Covid and to prevent the unvaccinated from visiting restaurants, shopping malls and hospitals, and from using trains and planes. Unmoved by these demonstrations, French Prime Minister Jean Castex says people should be “convinced” to take the vaccine “at all costs”. Reuters has the story.

Macron this week announced sweeping measures to fight a rapid surge in coronavirus infections, which protesters say infringe the freedom of choice of those who do not want the vaccination.

The measures had already prompted demonstrations earlier this week, forcing police to use tear gas to disperse protesters.

“Everyone is sovereign in his own body. In no way does a president of the Republic have the right to decide on my individual health,” said one protester in Paris who identified herself as Chrystelle.

Marches, which also took place in France’s largest cities such as Marseille, Lyon and Lille as well as many smaller centres, also included “yellow vest” protesters seeking to revive the anti-Government movement curbed by coronavirus lockdowns.

Visiting a centre in Anglet in southwestern France, Prime Minister Jean Castex said vaccination, which is not mandatory for the general public for now, is the only way to fight the virus.

“I hear the reluctance that arises but I think that we must at all costs convince all our fellow citizens to be vaccinated, it is the best way to cope to this health crisis,” Castex said.

Despite the strength of the protests, an Ipsos-Sopra Steria poll released on Friday found more than 60% of French people agree with mandatory vaccination for health workers, as well as a requirement for a health pass in some public places.

Worth reading in full.