‘Humiliation’: French see Covid-19 vaccine flops as sign of decline

France’s slip from frontrunner to laggard in the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine has sparked dismay among politicians, reigniting a debate about the country’s scientific prowess and its global standing.

France, the land of vaccine pioneer Louis Pasteur, has a long and celebrated history when it comes to medical breakthroughs.

With the world-renowned research centre that bears his name in Paris, the Pasteur Institute, as well as leading pharma group Sanofi, the country looked well positioned in the race to produce a jab against the novel coronavirus.

But the Pasteur Institute announced Monday that it was abandoning research on its most promising prospect, while Sanofi – an early frontunner in the vaccine race – has said its candidate for inoculation will not be ready before the end of 2021 at best. [ . . . ]

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Vaccine skepticism in France reflects ‘dissatisfaction with political class’

IFrance, every child is now obliged to have 11 vaccinations. If parents want their children to attend school, or take part in many extracurricular activities, they must accept. There is no opt-out or concessions made to vaccine doubters.

On Monday France’s government and health authorities are speeding up the country’s Covid-19 vaccine drive – a process complicated by widespread scepticism about the inoculation that has encompassed the usual global conspiracy theories.

“There’s a very big difference between what the French say and what they do,” he told the Guardian. “And polls whose methodology and questions can seem abstract do not reflect what happens when people know where they will have the vaccine, what it does, the how, when and why.”

Laurent-Henri Vignaud, Science historian 

For weeks, polls have suggested up to 60% of French citizens do not wish to be vaccinated. As the government’s vaccine operation enters its third week, official figures show that as of Saturday at least 93,000 people had been given the jab – a much lower number than elsewhere in Europe, including the UK, Germany and Italy.

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