France, UK boost vaccine campaigns; Britain shuts travel corridors

France and Britain on Monday joined a growing list of nations starting mass vaccinations for all elderly citizens as the UK began demanding all arrivals quarantine to try and halt the spread of a new Covid-19 variant.
The French drive aims to cover all people over 75 and comes after Brazil and India, which figure among the worst-affected countries, administered their first jabs over the weekend.
Health Minister Olivier Veran said more than one million vaccinations are being targeted by January and between 2.4 and 4 million by February.
France had earlier offered vaccinations to residents of retirement homes and health workers on the frontline.
Britain on Monday extended its own vaccination campaign to people over the age of 70, after first attending to over-80s, and frontline health workers and care givers.
Since the innoculation campaign began on Dec 8, more than 3.8 million people have received a first dose of vaccine in the UK.
Growing concerns over different strains of the virus have prompted governments to tighten curbs and stem a global death toll that has already crossed two million since the pandemic first emerged in China just over a year ago.
Russia is also due to start mass immunizations on Monday using its homegrown Sputnik V vaccine while Britain imposed a 10-day isolation and negative Covid tests on all travelers.
Arrivals will have to provide a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of travel or be banned from entering the UK.
New strains believed to be more contagious have emerged in Britain, South Africa and Brazil and have set off alarm bells.
Across the European Union there have been concerns that delays in the delivery of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine could further slow a campaign which critics have condemned as less agile than in the United States or Britain, a recently-departed EU member.
U.S. drugmaker Pfizer said it was working to "significantly" scale up production at its major plant in Belgium in the second quarter.
After a short delay, deliveries should be back to the original schedule to the EU from Jan 25.

© 2021 AFP
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