When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Damage Done: AstraZeneca Overcaution Was A Death Sentence

Waiting for the vaccine in Madrid, Spain
Waiting for the vaccine in Madrid, Spain
Guy Vallancien

The official announcement came Thursday evening from European Union health officials, but it simply confirmed what we already knew: the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe. And most European countries will recommence distributing the jab, as the vaccination campaigns continue to be far slower than promised. For Guy Vallancien, a member of the French Academy of Medicine, even the temporary suspension, is an example of public health policy at its weakest.

Hans Jonas, the inventor of the concept of the "precautionary principle," has left us with the worst of bad ideas, and politicians have eaten it up to protect themselves against lawsuits. Even if it has since been lifted, how can we not protest the French state's decision to temporarily suspend the vaccine developed and tested by scientists at Oxford and AstraZeneca?

Understandably, certain medical scandals in the past could make our leaders wary. When applied to vaccines, however, this principle of extreme precaution cannot stand. As a preventive approach, the ratio between risks and benefits has still resulted in hundreds of millions of lives saved.

This is indeed very different from the sale of medication produced by private companies that give severe side-effects and offer only mediocre benefits — reimbursed, of course, by our healthcare system.

We will end up vaccinating only the dead.

If all innovations come with risks, then vaccinations come with extraordinarily few, usually benign and temporary. A fire chief stopped vaccinating his team because one of his firefighters had one heart arrhythmia two days after the injection. What right did he have to deprive everyone else of protection, all the more useful since the main variant in France is now characterized as the more transmissible and dangerous strain? If we continue with this little game of "who won't take the risk," we will end up vaccinating only the dead. It works 100% and it is safe!

We have the data: The frequency of thrombosis (blood clots) following the injection of the AstraZeneca vaccine is 0.0004, i.e. about 30 cases out of 9.7 million people vaccinated, and for the Pfizer vaccine it's 0.0002 for every 10 million individuals. To date, there has been no proof that this is a cause-and-effect relationship, merely a coincidence that does not seem to be greater than that of keeping the population unvaccinated.

An empty vaccination center in Brescia, Italy— Photo: Stefano Nicoli/NurPhoto via ZUMA Press

The quality of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been verified by independent experts, so what else can we do? Continue to vaccinate relentlessly.

This absurd decision to suspend their usage, which has spread like wildfire around the world, and particularly around Europe, shows how politicians are seriously lacking basic science and statistics in decision-making.

This matter will leave permanent scars. First of all, who will want to be vaccinated now with AstraZeneca's product? Excessive media coverage on its side-effects had already tainted the confidence of candidates who were waiting impatiently for the vaccine.

Politics in Europe is locked in a paralyzing state of acute precaution. Nobody needed this absurd decision. The governments in European Union countries give us a terrible example of how to conduct business. While I have supported the action of the team in power, I am aware of the extreme difficulty of managing this war against an invisible and insidious enemy and can share the hesitations inherent in such a complicated battle. Yet I cannot remain silent regarding this incomprehensible and harmful decision to withdraw a vaccine. Yes, precaution will kill an additional 3,000 Europeans per day, while the vaccine has already protected more than 25 million without any significant risk. Do the math!

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


Tea Be Damned! Inside The Massive Starbucks Bet On China's Shift To Coffee

A gigantic and multi-faceted new location near Shanghai epitomizes the American giant's ambition to quench China's growing but still-nascent thirst for coffee.

Photo of a Starbucks coffee shop in China

Starbucks coffee in Yangshuo, China

Frédéric Schaeffer

Updated Dec. 7, 2023 at 4:05 p.m.

SHANGHAI — The town of Kunshan, an hour's drive from Shanghai, is the launchpad of Starbucks's latest Chinese offensive. In mid-September, the American giant inaugurated an 80,000 square meter site that includes a roasting plant, an integrated distribution centre, and an immersive experience centre.

Grandly named as the "China Coffee Innovation Park", this $220 million project is the Seattle-headquartered company's biggest investment outside the United States. And the Kunshan model of vertical integration, from bean to cup, has no equivalent anywhere else in the world for the Starbucks group.

The site is a symbol of Starbucks’s hefty ambitions in China – it plans to open a location in the country every nine hours between now and 2025. The aim is to have more than 9,000 shops in 300 Chinese cities by then, compared with 6,500 today. "The 9,000 stores are just a milestone", said Laxman Narasimhan, the company's new boss, who rushed to China at the end of May in the wake of his appointment.

✉️ You can receive our Bon Vivant selection of fresh reads on international culture, food & travel directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

Is the competition getting tougher? Has the end of the China’s "Zero-COVID" policy failed to deliver on its promise of an economic rebound? Is Washington pushing its multinationals to reduce their dependence on China?

Starbucks doesn't care. In the land of tea-drinkers, coffee is enjoying a meteoric rise, becoming a trendy drink for a young, urban middle class sensitive to Western influences.

The China focus comes amid news this week that McDonalds is launching a new kind of cafe-restaurant: CosMc's, which could be a direct competitor worldwide to Starbucks, serving customizable drinks like "s'mores and cold brew", "churro frappes", and "tumeric latte."

Some 10,000 CosMc locations are planned for opening over the next four years, with Starbucks expanding to 55,000 stores worldwide by 2030.

All of this speaks to coffee fever globally, which really began in China just a decade ago, and now registering double-digit growth rates that have manufacturers salivating.

"We expect China to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest market we have in the world," Narasimhan predicts.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest