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France unveils massive 3-stage vaccine strategy

NEWS

Covid Vaccine from ShutterstockWhile the news of France's President Macron being positive for Coronavirus was released, Prime Minister and Health Minister presented the government's planned vaccination strategy to the National Assembly this week. From the last week of December, a vaccination campaign of historic proportions is to begin, provided that all approvals have been granted by then.

The Elysée Palace announced Thursday morning that President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for the coronavirus. The president had previously shown initial symptoms and will now isolate himself for seven days, continuing to work from home, he said. It is still unclear how Macron became infected. Prime Minister Jean Castex also plans to isolate himself as a precautionary measure. Government business will continue via video conferences.

A campaign in three phases

The planned vaccination strategy envisages a campaign in three phases, the Prime Minister told the National Assembly Wed. First, high-risk patients, i.e. mainly residents of elderly homes, are to receive the vaccine. The clear goal is to reduce the death rate in the homes and, at the same time, cause fewer people to be admitted to intensive care so as not to overburden the health system. One million people fall under phase one, which will last six to eight weeks. Three weeks after the first dose, the vaccination must be repeated.

In phase two, up to 14 million people will be vaccinated: People with a risk factor such as their age or a chronic disease, and those working in the health sector.

The majority of the population will be reached first in phase three, towards the end of spring.

France will receive 1.16 million doses of vaccine before the end of the year, another 677,000 in the first week of January and 1.6 million in February. The government has ordered a total of 200 million doses to vaccinate 100 million people.

Before being vaccinated, people will be informed by a doctor about all risks and side effects. No one will be vaccinated against their will.

Public health restrictions will remain in force at least until summer

At the same time, the Prime Minister emphasised that the start of the vaccination campaign does not mean the end of the epidemic. The current health regulations would remain in force at least until the summer.

Health Minister Olivier Véran described the vaccination as a "decisive and ambitious step" in the fight against Covid-19 and praised the achievements of science and medicine. Both ministers are aware that they still have to work on people's confidence in vaccination: Currently, according to the national health authority Santé Publique France, only 53 per cent of French people are willing to be vaccinated. The state wants to focus its campaign on total transparency, vigilance and determination.

Curfew instead of lockdown

The second lockdown in France, which began on 30 October, was relaxed for the second time two days ago, on Tuesday 15 December. The basic lockdown curfew was replaced by a curfew between 8 pm and 6 am. The measures aim to bring down the infection figures from the end of October (around 40,000 new infections per day) to 5,000. Yesterday, 17,615 new infections were counted within 24 hours - a clear increase compared to the previous days.

- Aila Stoeckmann