France: Expert criticises Macron’s vaccine response
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Jean-Lin Lacapelle said the countries such as Britain and the US were able to ease their coronavirus restrictions because of their successful vaccination programmes and alleged Mr Macron was as much to blame as Brussels for the roll-out fiasco. The National Rally MEP said France remained in lockdown because of the “catastrophic” programme.
France’s vaccination strategy is catastrophic which means we are still on lockdown!
He said: “We are talking about May 17 for the reopening of a number of businesses while Great Britain, Spain and Switzerland have reopened their restaurants already.
“France’s vaccination strategy is catastrophic which means we are still on lockdown!
“We’re talking about May 2 for the curfew to ease.
“It is not extraordinary because if the curfew goes from 7pm to 8pm that’s not returning to our individual freedoms.
“And we have to wait to see if that really happens.”
Mr Lacapelle also criticised the French government’s tentative plans to start easing the country’s third national lockdown.
He said: “We’re talking about May 17 for the reopening of cultural places or shops which in my opinion shouldn’t be closed now.
“It worries me because May 17 is a month away when today our neighbours are open.
“The UK is open, Spain has opened its restaurants, Switzerland opened on April 16 and the United States is living a normal life because they have vaccinated 40 percent of the population and the British have vaccinated 50 percent of the population.”
He continued: “France is placed in ninth position in the EU on the first dose and 21st on the second dose, according to CovidTracker, which anyone can check.
“Not only was the EU very bad and responsible for the big delays in the vaccination process, but France also wasn’t any better in the execution of the vaccination plan, which explains why we are still on lockdown today and why the horizon is not yet precise.”
France is struggling to contain a third wave of coronavirus infections and today reported 34,968 new cases, a 4.36 percent increase on last Wednesday’s figure.
Week-on-week increases have only briefly dipped below the 4 percent level, in mid-February, and rose to more than 6 percent in late March-early April before Mr Macron ordered the third national lockdown just over two weeks ago.
The new cases took the total to 5.37 million. The government also reported 313 new deaths in hospitals, taking the cumulative toll to 101,881.
The number of people in intensive care with COVID-19 fell by 25 to 5,959 people as pressure on the hospital system remained high.
The number of people in hospital with the disease eased by 132 to 30,954 but remained well above the 30,000 level, where it has been since the start of the third lockdown on April 6.
The government today announced domestic travel restrictions imposed to tackle the spread of the virus are expected to be lifted on May 3 and said it was sticking to a base-case scenario of bars and restaurants being allowed to re-open outdoor seating by mid-May.
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Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said France should start using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week after Europe’s drug regulator backed the shot and deliveries started trickling in after a week-long pause.
The arrival of the fourth vaccine authorised by the European Medicines Agency offers hope as governments scramble to get shots in arms amid production problems and safety scares.
J&J is due to deliver 55 million doses of its vaccine to the EU by the end of June.
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)
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