The cross : Why is the Academy of Medicine taking the floor to denounce the slowness of the French vaccine strategy?
Jean-Francois Mattei : Because it is his mission. And because it is competent, bringing together several hundred eminent specialists, including on veterinary matters. Since March 22, 2020, the Academy of Medicine has created a Covid watch cell and has published around a hundred press releases.
On the issue of vaccination, we have already expressed ourselves on several occasions: on December 14, we published a press release entitled “Vaccination, why hesitate?” », Then on the 24th, another on the consent of the elderly in nursing homes or similar establishments. We are therefore not intervening in this debate in an impromptu or polemical way.
→ EXPLANATION. Covid-19 vaccine: the answers to your questions
What do you blame the government’s vaccine strategy for?
J.-FM : We are surprised at his extreme caution, which has resulted in a very slow start to the vaccination program. Given the current course of the epidemic and the increase in cases, vaccinating more quickly is a necessity – the vaccine is the only way to effectively fight the virus. It will take several months, we know, hence the importance of starting quickly.
But how to go faster, while obtaining the patient’s consent?
J.-F. M. : First of all, by placing total confidence in the perfectly competent and scrupulous European Medicines Agency. Why not go faster on the authorization of the Moderna vaccine, which only requires a temperature of -20 degrees for its conservation?
Then, by simplifying the vaccination procedures in nursing homes and similar establishments, by eliminating, in particular, the four-day reflection period. Once the pre-vaccination consultation has been carried out to ensure that there are no contraindications, why not immediately vaccinate those who agree? We can then come back to those who preferred to abstain or postpone their decision.
→ ANALYSIS. Vaccination against Covid: in nursing homes, the race for consent
Finally, by being pragmatic. It is necessary to vaccinate all the people present in these places and willing, starting with the caregivers, but also the administrative staff. Or the elderly in good health. We can thus vaccinate a hundred people in three hours. And why not vaccinate as a priority those who live and work in the establishments of the departments most affected by the second wave?
Priority does not have to mean exclusivity. It is certainly necessary to target the people most at risk but not to refrain from vaccinating more widely. The more the number of people vaccinated increases, the more a ripple effect will be able to convince the reluctant, as has happened in the United States. Conversely, an overly cautious attitude breeds doubt and encourages people to “wait and see”.
This raises the question of available doses. The Academy of Medicine calls for more transparency about stocks. Do you think there is a lack of anticipation from the French authorities?
J.-FM : We believe that the vaccine strategy, in its logistical aspect, was not sufficiently anticipated and prepared. Alain Fischer, member of the Academy, which coordinates the vaccination strategy, is one of the best experts on the subject, but the logistics are not a scientific problem. It is a stewardship issue. And transparency.
→ EXPLANATION. How are Covid-19 vaccines approved?
We regret that we do not have all the necessary elements to understand and form an opinion. We hardly have any. The Minister of Health assures us that we will have vaccinated a million people at the end of February 2021, but without giving a vaccination schedule week after week. However, this would make it possible to know, at each stage, the number of available doses received as well as the number of people actually vaccinated. What we would like is a roadmap.
→ DEBATE. Is France falling behind in vaccination against Covid-19?
Every day, the High Authority of Health or the Committee on the vaccination strategy could publish a bulletin, giving both the status of vaccination programs and the results in a given place. By vaccinating more quickly and more widely, we could thus reach several thousand people vaccinated per day. And finally reach correct figures.