Follow below for the latest Covid updates as Europe grapples with another deadly wave of the virus
France’s Haute Autorite de Sante health regulator said it was backing the additional doses for those aged 18 and over, and that the interim period between full vaccination and the booster shots should be shortened to five months instead of six.
Two parliamentary sources told Reuters the government is preparing to approve the move.
Elsewhere, scientists have issued a warning over a Covid variant with an “incredibly high” number of mutations. It is feared that the B.1.1529, or Botswana variant – an off-shoot of the B.1.1 – could drive further transmission of the virus.
The first cases found were three in Botswana, followed by another six cases in South Africa, and one in Hong Kong involving a traveller returning from South Africa.
EU to propose nine-month limit on Covid travel certificates
The EU will propose introducing a nine-month time limit on Covid vaccine certificates for travel, it has been reported.
According to Bloomberg, the bloc will urge countries to continue accepting tourists but prioritise those who have had a jab in the previous nine months.
The plan is expected to be announced later, Bloomberg said.
Germany hits grim milestone of 100,000 deaths
Official figures released Thursday show Germany has become the latest country to pass the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths from Covid since the pandemic began. Germany’s disease control agency says it recorded 351 additional deaths in connection with the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, taking the total toll to 100,119. In Europe, Germany is the fifth country to pass that mark, after Russia, the United Kingdom, Italy and France.
Cases continue to rise in France
On Wednesday, before reports of booster shots emerged, health authorities in France recorded over 30,000 new infections for a second day in a row, a sequence unseen since end-April.
The seven-day moving average of daily new cases – which evens out reporting irregularities – stands at a three-month high of 21,761 and has almost quadrupled in a month.
The number of people treated in intensive care for Covid is nearly 1,500, a figure last seen at the end of September.
President Emmanuel Macron’s government said it would focus on tougher social distancing rules and a faster booster shot programme and that it wanted to avoid imposing lockdowns again as some other European countries have done.
Generally, spike mutations allow viruses to adapt and become more virulent, and more able to evade natural and vaccine immunity.
Dr Tom Peacock, a virologist at Imperial College London, said the variant could be “of real concern” as its 32 mutations in its spike protein could enable it to more easily evade a person’s immune system and spread to more people.
My colleague Lamiat Sabin has more details below:
Only 10 cases have been reported worldwide so far