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A nurse takes care of a patient infected with COVID-19 in the intensive care unit of Lyon-Sud Hospital in Pierre-Bénite, France. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP via Getty Images

France granted citizenship to 12,000 COVID frontline workers this week in a show of gratitude for their efforts and sacrifices.

Why it matters: Immigrants comprise a quarter of the essential workers who remained active in the Île-de-France province during lockdowns, per data from a French health observatory.

  • "These frontline workers responded to the call of the nation," France’s citizenship minister, Marlène Schiappa, said in a statement. "The country pulled through thanks to them."

Details: Under the special program, France sped up cases for 12,012 new nationals out of more than 16,300 people who applied for citizenship, and decreased the requirement for residency from five years to two.

  • Newly minted citizens include doctors, nurses, cleaning staff, cashiers and garbage collectors, according to Schiappa.

Worth noting: Countries including Britain and the U.S. have faced calls to extend visas or allow indefinite residence for immigrant workers, the Washington Post reports.

Go deeper

Dec 20, 2021 - Health

D.C. reinstates indoor mask mandate as COVID cases surge

Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency on Monday and announced a number of new policies aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, including the reinstatement of the city's indoor mask mandate and a booster requirement for D.C. government employees.

Driving the news: The recent case surge comes amid the rise of the Omicron variant and as COVID tests are harder to find—all while many D.C.-area residents prepare to gather with family and friends for the holiday season.

Updated Dec 20, 2021 - Health

CDC: Omicron accounted for 23% of recent COVID-19 cases

People queue at a street-side COVID-19 testing booth in New York's Times Square on Dec. 20. Photo: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

The Omicron variant accounted for 22.5% of recent COVID-19 cases in the U.S. on the week that ended on Dec. 18 , according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated estimate released on Dec. 28.

The latest: The revised data shows Omicron's share of COVID-19 infections nearly tripled in just one week.

Dec 21, 2021 - Health

WHO and EU clear Novavax, adding another option to vaccine arsenal

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The WHO and EU have now cleared Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, adding another shot to the global arsenal.

Why it matters: The biggest impact will likely be in the developing world as the American company has promised over 1 billion doses to the WHO-backed COVAX initiative. The vaccine can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures and proved highly effective in clinical trials.

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