France is lagging behind its neighbors and attempting to hurry up COVID-19 vaccinations
© Reuters. Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine
By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Richard Lough
PARIS (Reuters) – France attempted to speed up COVID-19 vaccinations on Monday after government bureaucracy and caution slowed rollout in one of the world’s most vaccine-skeptical countries.
It started vaccinating medical personnel over the age of 50 after developing just 516 COVID shots from Pfizer (NYSE 🙂 and Germany’s BioNTech in the first week of a campaign that focused on elderly people in nursing homes.
The slow start compared to European neighbors such as Great Britain and Germany has irritated President Emmanuel Macron, who told people close to him, “Things have to change quickly and hard,” the weekly Journal du Dimanche reported on Sunday.
“It’s going too slowly,” the epidemiologist and government advisor Arnaud Fontanet told France Info Radio.
“But the real deadline is to get 5-10 million (vaccinations) by the end of March, because at that point you have a real impact on how the virus will spread.”
The coronavirus has killed more than 65,000 people in France, the seventh highest national number in the world. Even so, a poll over the weekend found that six out of ten French citizens intend to refuse the vaccination.
Fontanet said it would be “useful” to simplify the red tape in introducing vaccination. He stopped saying whether a mandatory consultation with a doctor a few days before receiving a COVID sting was a waste of time.
A slow vaccination campaign could jeopardize France’s recovery from an unprecedented economic slump in a time of peace.
The French National Academy of Medicine said last week the government was taking “excessive precautions”. Government officials said vaccination in nursing homes is logistically complex.
A spokesman for nursing home operator Korian said it was announced that it would be ready for vaccinations in the greater Paris area on Monday, but the doses had not yet been dispensed.
The UK, which has more than a million COVID-19 vaccines up its arms, began vaccinating its population with the scientifically triumphant shot developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca (NASDAQ :).
Dominique Le Guludec, head of the French regulator, said there is still not enough data to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“We prefer to wait an additional 15 days if necessary to receive all safety and efficacy data,” Le Guludec told BFM TV.
The EU medical watchdog is expected to decide on the approval of a third vaccine developed by Modern (NASDAQ :), later this week.
France sent 12 million students back to school as planned on the Monday after the Christmas holidays.
Restaurants, bars, museums and cinemas will remain closed. Restaurants were unlikely to reopen on Jan. 20 as originally planned, Alain Griset, a government minister said Sunday.
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