No return to normal life before Autumn 2021, says top French scientist

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Thursday vaccines will start being rolled out in Europe at the end of December

Dominique Vidalon,Isobel Frodsham
Friday 18 December 2020 14:15 GMT
A man walks in a deserted street near the French senate in Paris on December 15
A man walks in a deserted street near the French senate in Paris on December 15 (AFP via Getty Images)

A senior French government scientific adviser has said it is unlikely the country will return to normal before Autumn next year.

Jean-François Delfraissy told BFM television there were an estimated 22 million people in France that are vulnerable and that it could take until May to vaccinate them all before shots could be rolled out to others.

"Vaccines are a major source of hope but if you look at the vaccination capabilities that we will have in France and elsewhere in Europe, we will need time," he said.

"The production of vaccines will be slower than envisioned 15 days or three weeks ago," he said. "We will not face a vaccine shortfall but we will have something that is more spread out over time."

When questioned if this meant the French would continue facing restrictions in their daily lives to fight COVID-19 infections until autumn 2021, he said: "More or less."

On Thursday, President of the European Union Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced that on December 27, 28 and 29, vaccinations will start being rolled out across the EU.

The rollout is conditional depends on if the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, which was approved by Britain’s regulatory body for emergency usage on December 2 and the US’ regulatory body also for emergency usage on December 11, is approved by the EU’s regulator, EU Medicines Agency.

The vaccine will be discussed at a meeting on December 21 while approval of the Moderna vaccine is due to be debated next month.

What you need to know about the coronavirus vaccines

On Wednesday, French Prime Minister Jean Castex told parliament that the vaccination campaign in France could start in the last week of December if it was approved, and then would be stepped up in January.

The elderly would be the first people in the queue, he added.

France recorded 18,254 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, the highest daily tally since Nov. 20.

France ranks fifth globally for cases with more than 2.42 million so far.


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