Paris (AFP)

Jean Castex exposes Thursday the government's strategy on vaccines, a decisive step that the executive does not want to miss in the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic, after having stumbled on the masks and the tests.

While the United Kingdom on Wednesday became the first country to approve the massive use of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, which will be deployed as early as next week, the French government also intends to take this turn but cautiously.

"It will not be a compulsory vaccination strategy but a strategy of conviction and transparency," Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed Tuesday.

Mistrust of vaccines is indeed stronger in France than among its neighbors.

And "we have little perspective" on the "first generation" vaccines, which must be stored between -80 and -20 degrees and require complex logistics, recalled the Head of State.

Two major phases are envisaged.

A first "highly targeted" vaccination campaign between late December and early January for priority people, followed by a second "larger" campaign aimed at the general public, between April and June.

"There is apprehension, it is normal since we have never released a vaccine so quickly, but we need" the vaccination.

"It will be the responsibility of the public authorities to convince the French to reassure them, to do a lot of pedagogy", summarizes Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

- Logistics issues -

Prime Minister Jean Castex assured Wednesday that he had "pre-ordered enough to vaccinate 100 million people".

He will hold a press conference at the end of the afternoon with his ministers of Health Olivier Véran, European Affairs Clément Beaune, and Industry Agnès Pannier-Runacher, which will be very educational on vaccines, with a "big transparency on the purchasing process ", according to his entourage.

The government should follow the “five progressive phases” recommended Monday by the High Authority of Health (HAS), starting with the elderly living in nursing homes and employees at risk of these establishments.

In addition to the logistical and educational issues, the caution is guided by the fact that the vaccines seem to prevent the development of the Covid-19 disease, but it is not known for how long and if they also prevent the transmission of the virus.

The first step is to reduce the health impact of the disease (hospitalizations, intensive care admissions and death).

For the "control" of the epidemic, it will be necessary "to wait until the studies establish the proof that the vaccines have a possible effectiveness on the transmission of the virus" and that their availability "is sufficient", underlines the HAV.

To pilot this complex device, the government does not rule out appointing a "Mr. or Mrs. Vaccine", according to a government source.

- "Faulty piloting" -

The executive does not want to miss the vaccination campaign which would allow him to forget his past management of the epidemic, with its hiccups on the masks or its delays on the tests.

A report by the Assembly's commission of inquiry into the management of the crisis, led by the right-wing LR, overwhelms the government and its "poor leadership".

LREM denounced a "partial and partial report".

The Prime Minister welcomed Tuesday before the deputies the majority of health results "among the best in Europe" even if "they are not yet sufficient", suggesting a further relaxation of restrictions on December 15.

Mr. Castex should specify in this regard the "gauge" retained for religious ceremonies, after having mentioned "6 m2 per faithful", against 30 people maximum currently.

But the government remains vigilant as the end of year holidays approach, which could promote the circulation of the virus.

In this regard, he will launch, perhaps before Christmas, massive Covid-19 screening campaigns in Saint-Etienne, Le Havre and another city in the North.

He also intends to better control the isolation of sick people, without excluding sanctions.

On the closure of ski resorts, Castex said he was considering seven-day isolation for French people returning from skiing abroad, with random border checks, sparking an outcry in the opposition.

© 2020 AFP