“Isn’t it time to speed up” the vaccination campaign, wonders on franceinfo the epidemiologist Philippe Amouyel, professor of public health at the Lille University Hospital, and director of the Alzheimer Foundation. He pleads for an acceleration of the vaccination strategy, for “to face several fires”, in particular by targeting “caregivers” and “the doctors” and “other people who are elderly, who are at risk and who are not necessarily nursing homes”.
franceinfo: Should we go faster in the French vaccine strategy?
Philippe Amouyel: In my opinion, yes, we have to go faster since it is still the beginning of the end of the tunnel that we see being projected with this vaccination. So I fully understand the plan that was made, in particular by targeting the most vulnerable, to try to lighten the burden on hospitals and intensive care units a little. It would have been interesting, to face a third wave, to vaccinate caregivers, to ensure that a certain number of exemplary political people could be vaccinated publicly as has been done in other countries. And most importantly, implementing a plan can be faster. I understand that there is a whole bunch of prevention, especially in nursing homes, but isn’t it time to speed up? Like other countries are doing, like Israel is doing, like the UK is doing, like the Americans are doing, like the Germans are doing now.
According to Professor Alain Fisher, this drip vaccination is due to a logistical problem, do you understand?
We can understand that the problem is logistical when we want to vaccinate people in nursing homes. But couldn’t we advance the other phases a little faster? Or are we running out of vaccines, and we can’t do it now. The idea is really to face several fires. I think the idea of vaccinating people in nursing homes is a very good initiative. But the only thing is that it should not be a brake because of the logistical problems. In addition, we see that the English have just approved the AstraZeneca vaccine which is easier to handle and also cheaper. So, shouldn’t we make such a decision? It is difficult to understand why we cannot go faster or rather mount phases in parallel, since we could start to vaccinate caregivers.
The Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, also explains this choice to him through the skepticism of the French population, do you agree with this observation?
I believe that there are French people who will never accept vaccination. We can understand them, they have reasons. It is a percentage of the population. What is needed is that we reach two thirds of the French population vaccinated. Suddenly, there are 40% who seem ready to be vaccinated, so let’s take advantage of it. The more we have vaccinated in France, the more obvious the perception of the low risk of this vaccine, of the high risk benefit ratio. And it remains all undecided. One thing that stands out for me this year is that we ran out of stock of flu vaccines. This had never happened in France. So that means that people, no matter what you think, still have an appetite for these vaccines, a need to be vaccinated because they have understood that it was the only way to get out of this nightmare that we have been living for almost a year now. Perhaps we should move forward on this and present more of what is happening abroad. Because there are already nearly 4 million people who have been vaccinated, with an extremely low number of complicated events.
Are we being too careful, for example when it comes to obtaining consent?
You can never be too careful. The only thing is, it’s complicated. Should we do accelerated procedures? We know that in nursing homes, we have a certain number of people who have cognitive and intellectual function disorders which require more time, which require contacting family members. But couldn’t we have a parallel channel that would allow vaccination of other people who are elderly, who are at risk, who are not necessarily nursing homes, but who could benefit from this vaccination? There are many people who say they are ready to be vaccinated, including caregivers, including doctors. It is really an important issue for nursing homes, we agree. The strategy is probably the right one. But why not extend it to other groups?