Politicians from all sides criticized the slowness of the vaccination campaign in France on Wednesday. A strategy, however, assumed by the government, which wants to take the time to “pedagogy” in a country where mistrust of vaccines is strong.
Already 78,000 people vaccinated against Covid-19 in Germany, 8,300 in Italy … and less than 200 in France: the slow start of the vaccine campaign arouses criticism and incomprehension in the political class and among some doctors, but the government said to assume its strategy.
Is France behind compared to other countries? There are already over 600,000 people vaccinated in the United Kingdom, one million in the United States and 650,000 in Israel, but comparisons with these countries are hardly relevant because vaccination started there much earlier (respectively the 8, December 14 and 19).
Speed up to save lives
The countries of the European Union, on the other hand, started their vaccination campaign at the same time as France, on December 27. However, less than 200 people were vaccinated in France in four days, against more than 78,000 in Germany and 8,300 in Italy.
A difference which denotes a “real and impressive French delay”, tweeted PS Senator Rachid Temal. “We could perhaps speed up a little” to “save lives”, criticized the president of the UDI, Jean-Christophe Lagarde, on RMC.
The government is advancing “with very small steps”, it is “not adapted” to the situation, also lamented the geneticist Axel Kahn. On the contrary, it would be necessary to show “enthusiasm” by accelerating the vaccination, otherwise the 30 to 35% of “vaccine-skeptics” will be convinced that, “if we go so slowly”, it is “that there is a danger, “he said on Europe 1.
“I reject this idea of progress in small steps”, defended on LCI Professor Alain Fischer, the “Mr. vaccine” appointed by the government. According to him, it is “derisory” to make comparisons between countries over the “few days” that have passed since the start of the campaign. This slow start, he explained, is due to the choice to vaccinate the most vulnerable as a priority and to the complexity of delivering the doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, which must be stored at – 80 degrees.
The Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, had “assumed”, Tuesday, this soft start, ensuring not to confuse “speed and precipitation”.
The government favors “pedagogy”, he explained on France 2: “we collect the consent of people before they are vaccinated. I believe that it is a guarantee of confidence”.
Unlike Germany, France has chosen “to move the vaccine to people in retirement homes and not to ask people in retirement homes to move”, for his part justified the holder. word of the government, Gabriel Attal, suggesting that this could slow down the process.
In the end, “what matters is that by the month of January we will have caught up with the gap vis-à-vis everyone”, assured Mr. Véran.
Does the step-by-step strategy adopted in France differ from that of its neighbors?
The Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) has defined a phased vaccination schedule, giving priority to people at risk and those particularly exposed to the virus.
Concretely, the campaign begins with some 750,000 residents of retirement homes as well as employees of these establishments “who themselves present a risk of serious form (over 65 years and / or with comorbidity (s))”. The target audiences must then be broadened in stages, with the youngest and least vulnerable coming last.
Several neighboring countries have adopted more or less similar strategies: in Germany, vaccination for the moment mainly concerns seniors in retirement homes, but also their caregivers, in the United Kingdom priority is given to these same categories as well as to more age 50 and people at risk. In Italy, it is the health professionals who have priority, then the staff and residents of retirement homes.
The Israeli authorities are aiming for mass vaccination: the goal of one million vaccinated – out of nine million inhabitants – is envisaged by the end of the week. And a quarter of the population should be within a month.
In France, some are asking for a widening of the target audiences: “it is necessary to vaccinate caregivers as a priority”, argues Axel Kahn. “As an individual, I would like to be vaccinated to set an example,” also underlined Professor Philippe Juvin, elected LR and head of emergencies at the Georges Pompidou hospital.
“If we had to vaccinate all nursing staff, we would not have enough (doses) for everyone,” however, recalled immunologist Stéphane Paul in Liberation.