Matt Hancock grilled by host on 'delay' of coronavirus vaccine
The country reported 516 vaccinations in the first week the rollout was announced, according to public health data tool CovidTracker. The number is far below the tens of thousands of daily vaccinations needed for France to reach its target of one million doses administered by the end of this month.
Martin Blachier, a French health expert and epidemiologist, went so far as to call the slow rollout “the biggest fiasco we’ve ever had in the medical world”, the BBC reports.
French officials are claiming the delay is due to logistics, with teams being sent to care homes and also needing consent.
However, reports are also pointing to France’s population which is described as vaccine-sceptical.
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An Ipsos poll conducted late last year suggested only 40 percent of those polled planned to be vaccinated.
A health ministry official at the time said the country was setting up for “a marathon” and not a sprint.
Olivier Véran, France’s Minister of Health, has now claimed “several thousand people” were vaccinated against coronavirus on Monday.
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He added this number would increase through this week as vaccinations centres rapidly multiply.
In addition, Government spokesman Gabriel Attal has insisted vaccination rollout will “really take off this week” and claimed 500,000 doses would be available from nearly 100 medical centres by tomorrow.
Yesterday’s alleged figures mark an improvement from last week, though France currently remains behind other European countries such as Germany, which had vaccinated around 238,000 people as of Sunday.
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Even further ahead is the UK with around one million jabs administered.
The UK also had a head-start of a few weeks compared with the rest of Europe, as Britain’s rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab began on December 7.
European nations, meanwhile, began their rollout on the weekend of December 26.
According to analysts, France’s rollout woes could prove harmful for President Emmanuel Macron’s re-election prospects.
Chloé Morin, a social scientist who has worked with the French Government in the past, told European news site Politico the vaccine rollout would be “extremely symbolic” for Mr Macron and that “the stakes are very big.”
The French president faces re-election in 2022 when the nation goes to the polls.
The Netherlands remains the only EU country not to have started a vaccine rollout at all.
The launch there had been set for January 8, though it has now been brought forward to tomorrow.
The UK began the rollout of its second coronavirus vaccine this week – the domestically-produced Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.
It came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new national lockdown in the face of over 50,000 daily cases and hospital capacity concerns.
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