The number of COVID-19 patients in France’s intensive care units has risen to a new high for this year, health ministry data showed on Sunday, as doctors warned a third wave of infections could soon overwhelm hospitals.
There were 4,872 ICU patients being treated for COVID-19, close to a November peak during France’s second wave of the virus, though well below a high of about 7,000 in April last year. The number of new infections fell, however, by around 5,600 to 37,014.
A group of 41 hospital doctors in the Paris region signed an article in the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche warning that they might soon have to start choosing between patients for emergency treatment.
Last week Austria, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland all suspended the administration of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, citing reports of blood clots occurring in a few folks who had been inoculated with it. Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Thailand, and the Netherlands have now joined them.
“There is no causal effect established or anything like that yet,” Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin told CNBC, “but as a precautionary move in line with the precautionary principle and in an abundance of caution, our clinical advice was to pause the program whilst the EMA does a review of this.”
The precautionary principle is an ideological construct that eschews risk-benefit evaluations and essentially requires that all new technologies be somehow proved entirely risk-free before they can be used.
Europe’s reluctance to distribute millions of doses of AstraZeneca PLC’s Covid-19 vaccine is coming under pressure after the French government authorized use of the shot for some older people.
The French government announced it would allow people with comorbidities between the ages of 65 and 74 to receive the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. New data from the U.K. on Monday showed just one dose of the vaccine was effective in preventing disease and deaths among adults aged 70 and older who had received it.
France’s move was a sharp departure from a month ago when President Emmanuel Macron told reporters that the vaccine was quasi ineffective for people older than 65, without providing evidence to back up his claim. The comments helped sow doubts across the European Union that still persist.
Absent that nightmare scenario—and most prognosticators believe science can vanquish any of COVID-19’s shape-shifting—the conventional Wall Street wisdom is for better days ahead on both the health and the economics fronts. And since escalating rates are co-dependent on an improving economy, a sunny thesis appears pretty solid.
Historically speaking, low rates like today’s are an aberration. Thus, at some point, it’s reasonable to assume they will return to normal. Or at least to higher than now, to a degree. A new normal that’s hardly towering.
At the same time, as coronavirus case counts soar in each of these four nations, publics are largely split on whether their country has done a good job handling the outbreak. Ideology plays a role in people’s assessments of their national coronavirus response, but this rings especially true in the U.S. and UK, where those on the political left are more critical. Those who feel better about their nation’s economic situation are more likely to give positive reviews of how the virus has been handled thus far.