As of January 5, France has only a few hundred people vaccinated against the coronavirus in contrast with thousands in its neighbors who administered the coronavirus vaccine to thousands of volunteers. Jean Castex and Olivier Véran must return on Thursday to the French vaccine campaign's progress, much-criticized since its launch on December 27.
The strategy has not changed! " The tenors of the majority assure in chorus. After a week of heated controversy, it is a sharp turn that the executive has made in terms of vaccination against Covid-19. Accused of having fallen behind in other European countries, the government decided, under pressure, to "amplify, accelerate and simplify" its vaccination campaign by allowing access to the serum to categories of the population who would have initially had to wait until February to be bitten.
While the Prime Minister, Jean Castex, and the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, must detail the rest of the operations at a press conference, Thursday, January 7, Corona Briefer looks back on three weeks of floating at the top of the state.
A strategy defined by the High Authority for Health
A little over a month ago, Monday, November 30, the High Authority of Health (HAS), responsible for establishing recommendations to the government in public health matters, presented its long-awaited conclusions on vaccination against Covid -19.
At the top of its list of people to be vaccinated as a priority, the body places the elderly who live in communities (for example, in nursing homes) and the staff who work alongside them, if this presents a risk of developing a complication of the disease. Then come the elderly (first over 75) and nursing staff, over 50, people whose jobs promote infection and vulnerable and insecure people. Finally, the rest of the population.
The nursing homes preparing to vaccinate "around January 15"
There is no question of rounding off the elders in medico-social establishments from the start of the campaign. The professionals of the sector were, moreover, at that time, far from imagining themselves in the window of the French countryside. "The planned schedule left us about two weeks to collect the consent of residents or their trusted people, as well as to organize pre-vaccination visits," explains the Korian group, which manages 364 establishments in France.
"The regional health agencies asked us to send our requests for vaccines around January 11. We, therefore, expected to start vaccinations around the 15, once delivered."
There is nothing illogical in this context that nursing home residents vaccinated in the last days of 2020 number in the tens more than in the thousands. On December 30, Germany, which has set up large vaccination centers and opened injections to health personnel, had thus inoculated the vaccine to nearly 80,000 people, against 138 in France.
"The strategy was good, not the pace"
In light of this gap, the first voices are rising to denounce an overly strict vaccination strategy, while it was not controversial a few days earlier. "I consider that today we are facing a state scandal," criticizes the LR president of the Grand Est region on Monday, January 4, Jean Rottner, who denounces "a form of lack of preparation, of irresponsibility." The first secretary of the PS, Olivier Faure, qualifies the start of the campaign "of humiliation for the country of Pasteur."
The feedback from the field on the side of elected officials is no better. "On the Telegram loops of the majority deputies, it's the end of the world!" summarizes one of them. "The reaction of the French was very strong. As parliamentarians, we felt it immediately. The strategy was the right one, but the timing and the pace were not good", abounds Sylvain Maillard, a spokesperson from the LREM group to the National Assembly.
Under fire from critics, the government is forced to step up. In comments on January 3, the head of state himself criticizes the "pace of family walk" of this vaccination campaign. The following days, Olivier Véran broadens the first phase to all health professionals aged at least 50 or presenting risk factors, to which are added firefighters and home helpers over 50 and the French over 50. 75 years old.
Logistics, largely forgotten?
Among the most frequent criticisms against the French strategy: the sole consideration of ethical and health criteria, to the detriment of logistical aspects. Interviewed at the end of December on LCI, Professor Alain Fischer, appointed by the government to head the Orientation Council for the vaccination strategy, had confided that he was "not at all a specialist in these questions" of organization, transport and of deliveries.
A sluggish implementation
At this time, everything is not yet tied up in the field: the first doses of vaccine have not arrived (they were delivered from Belgium on December 26, the day before the official start of the campaign), and some super-freezers are waiting. Olivier Véran's green light to vaccinate doctors over 50 came on December 31. But the controversy over the French campaign's slowness is already underway, and the government is caught off guard.
Is the vaccination campaign already on its way, after this sluggish start and the government's strategic turnaround? The executive ensures that the goal of vaccinating a million French people by the end of January remains relevant. For it to be held, some 40,000 daily vaccinations will be needed. "In a few months, the numerical comparisons with other European countries will be useless because we will all be vaccinated millions, in proportion to our population, depending on the arrival of doses," is the opinion at the Elysee.