During the health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, this question was asked by many French people: was the country prepared to face such a crisis? It is therefore one of the questions that will be asked this week by the National Assembly's committee of inquiry into the management of the Covid-19 crisis. 

While four former health ministers are going to be heard by deputies about France's possible preparations for the pandemic, it was Agnès Buzyn who was interviewed first, Tuesday, June 30. 

Long-awaited, after having precipitately left her post in mid-February to embark on the municipal race in Paris, Agnès Buzyn herself had said that she was impatient to speak on this issue.  

 "I never underestimated the risk"

"You cannot say that we were not reactive", she defended herself before the commission of inquiry, while assuring that the "anticipation" in France was "without common measure with the others European countries "and" always ahead "in relation to alerts from international organizations regarding the coronavirus epidemic. 

The Minister assured having also asked Public Health France "three scenarios of evolution of the epidemic", asked the research structures "a research protocol" with the drugs already available. 

Two days before he left the ministry on February 16, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control still assessed the risk to the capacity of European health systems as "low to moderate," she said. 

"I never underestimated the risk and I prepared our health system at all times" before leaving the ministry, she added, adding "fully (r) take the decisions made by (his ) services and (his) ministry ". 

Agnes Buzyn also said that when she left the ministry, she felt she had done her "preparation work". 

"I believe that I have done my preparatory work for the Ministry of Health. The whole system is being prepared and under stress," she told deputies.  

"Stop saying I saw nothing, I saw everything"

In an interview with Le Monde on March 16, the day after the first round of the municipal elections, she had caused a controversy by saying that she regretted the "masquerade" of the municipal elections and expressed the doubts that had assailed her when she threw herself into the battle, finally lost, for the town hall of Paris. 

"When I left the ministry, I was crying because I knew that the tsunami wave was before us. I left knowing that the [municipal] elections would not take place," she said in this interview. 

"I had spent a terrible day, I was tired, I was accused on social networks of not having prepared anything, she pleaded in response to a question about this interview. Quite the contrary, I fought for a month (...). What I wanted to say is 'stop saying that I saw nothing', I saw everything ".

The central question of the lack of masks

The former minister was also questioned about the lack of masks, which will have caused a lot of ink to flow during confinement, while a letter from the public health agency France public health in 2018 recommended to replenish the stock of masks to height of a billion units.

Agnès Buzyn explained that she immediately requested an inventory of all stocks of protective equipment, including masks, as well as the number of resuscitation beds and respirators. She assured having launched a first order of a million FFP2 masks, absent from strategic state stocks. 

In April 2010, this stock amounted to 1 billion surgical masks and 700 million FFP2 masks, more protective, said June 24 to the commission of inquiry Didier Houssin, Director General of Health (DGS) from 2005 to 2011 . 

But at the beginning of 2020, this stock had reduced to 117 million surgical masks for adults, 40 million pediatric masks, and no longer any reserve of FFP2. 

"This management of protective mask stocks, it does not return to the level of the minister. (...) The vigilance that I must have is on dozens of products," she replied before the commission.

"You cannot blame me on January 23, when there is no epidemic in Europe, for telling the French that you should not wear a mask, when in addition, the doctrine of international recommendations says that masks are for sick people, "she insisted.

Senate Commission of Inquiry

Wednesday, it is Marisol Touraine (Minister from 2012 to 2017), who will be questioned by the members of the commission, then Roselyne Bachelot (2007-2010), before Xavier Bertrand (2005-2007 then 2010-2012) closes the prom Thursday. 

In parallel, the Senate, dominated by the right-wing opposition, voted unanimously on Tuesday to create a commission of inquiry on the management of the coronavirus health crisis requested by its president Gérard Larcher (LR) . 

Established for six months, the commission will have a format expanded to 36 members and will begin its hearings in July, while according to an assessment established by AFP, from official sources Tuesday, the pandemic has killed 29,813 people in France . 

With AFP and Reuters 

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