Macron’s ally admits panic over vaccine rollout as France battles ‘worrying’ Covid surge

Vaccine: France 'did not block distribution' claims Beaune

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Meanwhile the French government has warned the COVID-19 situation in 10 regional departments, including the one which contains Paris, is “worrying”. According to the Our World In Data website, just 6.25 dose of coronavirus vaccine per 100 people have been administered in the EU, compared with 27.34 in the UK.

In France, the figure is 5.88 – even lower than the bloc-wide average.

The situation has been exacerbated by the news that AstraZeneca will not be able to deliver all the doses promised in the second quarter of the year, while Janssen’s vaccine is expected to arrive in May, not April.

Mr Macron himself had previously stoked controversy when he claimed AstraZeneca’s jab, developed in conjunction with Oxford University, as “quasi-effective” for over-65s.

Mr Beaune, who is Secretary of State in charge of European affairs, told French current affairs programme 4 Vérités: “Regarding AstraZeneca, when there were delivery delays announced a few weeks ago, that’s what we are talking about.

“Between February and March, there are some delivery delays.

“What was announced in the first quarter for France and for Europe will be respected.

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We have not invested enough, no doubt

Clement Beaune

“For the second quarter, there are delivery delays which were known for a few weeks and are now confirmed.”

Asked why it was the case, Mr Beaune added: “Because we have not invested enough, no doubt, in the production and development of vaccines.

“So it is an industrial delay and we must catch up.

“The problem we have today is a production and delivery problem.

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“Seven million doses will have arrived in France by the end of February.

“We will more than double this number by the end of March and we will reach 35 million doses in April.”

In order to turn the tide it was crucial to make up for delays as much as possible, Mr Beaune stressed.

He added: “This was the case with Pfizer: we made up for these delays, we increased delivery capacities in the coming weeks. For Moderna, it was the same.”

Mr Bueane was speaking at a time of rising concern about the COVID-19 situation within his own country.

Speaking after today’s Cabinet meeting, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the government was ready to take extra measures to limit infections.

He explained: “The situation is deteriorating and it is a source of worry in about 10 regional departments and some regions require rapid and strong measures.

“We have shown in regions such as Moselle and Alpes-Maritimes that, when the situation requires it, we can act quickly.”

The Alpes-Maritimes Mediterranean coastal region around Nice on Monday announced a partial lockdown over the next two weekends.

Mr Attal said the government was doing everything in its power to avoid a new national lockdown.

Health Minister Olivier Veran today travelled to the northern port of Dunkirk to discuss measures aimed at slowing down the infection rate.

France has resisted a new national lockdown to control more contagious variants, hoping a curfew that has been in place since December 15 can contain the pandemic.


(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)

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