France: Expert criticises Macron’s vaccine response
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Official data shows member states fell far below their goal to administer Covid immunisations to at least 80 percent of the elderly and healthcare workers. The average vaccination rate for those aged 80 and above was almost 57 percent, whereas just 30 percent had received two doses, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. And as of April 2, just 63 percent of healthcare workers across the bloc had received just one dose of a life-saving coronavirus vaccine.
In contrast, the UK managed to hit its goal for inoculating the four most at-risk groups in February: care home residents, carers, followed by people over the age of 70, those considered clinically extremely vulnerable and frontline health and social care staff.
With the Continent gripped by a third wave of infections, the EU is expected to hit yet more vaccination targets in the coming months.
Leaked official estimations suggest only 55 percent of the EU population will have received a jab by the end of June.
Countries reliant on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine have been hit the hardest after a shortfall in supplies and health fears that it causes blood clots.
Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia, which turned down the Pfizer jab, are among the slowest in the bloc to administer inoculations.
They are all expected to fall below the EU’s second quarter average as a result of the move.
Whereas Malta expects to have 93 percent of its population vaccinated before July, Denmark follows next with 80 percent and Germany has forecast 60 percent.
The European Commission said last week that it had managed to deliver more than 100 million doses to member states in the first three months of the year.
Eurocrats expect the bloc’s vaccination drive to pick up pace in the second quarter with it forecast to receive 360 million doses.
So far, the EU has administered 18 doses per 100 people, around a third of what Britain has managed.
The bloc is hoping to have offered a jab to 70 percent of its adult population by mid-September.
Meanwhile, political leaders in France have warned that people’s refusal to take the AstraZeneca vaccine is hampering the country’s push to reach immunity by the end of the summer.
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Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart said hundreds of doses had been left unused since reports of people suffering blood clots after receiving it.
She said: “It’s more than a wave of panic. It’s been going on for a week, and Friday was the final blow.
“There really has to be a national campaign to explain that this vaccine as no more negative consequences than the one from Pfizer or Moderna.”
Dr Thierry Mraovic, a director at a vaccination centre in Gravelines, said 600 doses of the AstraZeneca jab had been returned to the manufacturer.
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He hit out at France’s restrictions to only use the shop in people over 55 because of the minuscule risk of blood clots appear to have hit younger patients.
French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said: “We have to pay attention to the fears of the French.”
Sources close to President Emmanuel Macron warned the government expected difficulties in convincing the “last 10 percent” to receive the vaccine.
The adviser said: “When the last reluctant people see their friends getting together in restaurants and shows again thanks to the vaccine certificate, they will go and get a jab.”
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