Health expert warns it will take France 3,000 years to reach herd immunity

Jan. 5, 2021

PARIS — More than a week after France’s COVID-19 vaccine campaign was launched, only a few thousand people in the entire country have received their first injection, with President Emmanuel Macron’s vaccination strategy widely criticized for being flawed, too slow, and “pandering” to anti-vaxxers, the Daily Beast reports.

As of Jan. 1, only 516 people in France had received their first vaccine dose, according to the independent website Covid Tracker.

In interviews with The Daily Beast, French doctors blasted the country’s approach to the vaccine rollout.

The French strategy initially prioritized vulnerable groups in retirement homes. But a slow take-up and reports of large numbers of care patients refusing the vaccine have forced a change of plan.

The Beast spoke to Nathan Peiffer-Smadja, an infection specialist at Paris’s Bichat hospital. He criticized the decision to begin vaccination in retirement homes. “Medically and scientifically, there is no reason for this to be done slowly. On the contrary, it should be done as quickly as possible,” Smadja said.

“At this pace it would take 3,000 years to reach herd immunity,” Professor Bruno Megarbane told the Daily Beast, head of the medical and toxicological intensive care unit at Lariboisière Hospital in Paris. 

Megarbane is “confident” that the speed of vaccinations will increase, but is concerned about the lack of information being shared with hospitals. “We don’t have any information,” he added. “We don’t know when vaccination will begin, who can get vaccinated, or who will be allowed to carry out vaccinations,” the Beast reports.

Currently, 24,780 patients are hospitalized in France because of COVID-19, including 2,665 in intensive care, according to data from Public Health France. A total of 65,037 people have died since the beginning of the pandemic.

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