France to send first 50,000 doses of Moderna vaccine to hard-hit regions

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More than 50,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine developed by US biotech company Moderna were to arrive in France Monday, as the government steps up its vaccination drive following a sluggish start.

Recently authorised for use in Europe, the Moderna vaccine will be sent to French towns and cities with the highest virus circulation.

Health Minister Olivier Véran told Europe 1 radio these stretched from Strasbourg, on the German border, to Nice, on the Mediterranean coast.

According to the Health Ministry, some 5,160 vials each containing 10 doses of vaccine are due to arrive in vaccination centres by Wednesday. Almost eight million doses will arrive in France by the summer.

The move comes as France and other European nations seek to immunise millions of people with the already-approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Both vaccines require two injections, spaced out over a period of us to 12 weeks, to reach maximum effectiveness.

The Moderna jab, however, presents fewer logistical constraints as it can be stored at -20 degrees Celsius, as opposed to -80 for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.