France to start widespread Covid-19 vaccine campaign from April 2021, says Macron

France is aiming to launch a widespread Covid-19 vaccination campaign between April and June next year, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.

Early 2021 will see a first vaccination drive targeted at the most fragile and exposed groups, followed by a second campaign for the rest of the population, Macron told a press briefing at the Elysée Palace in Paris.

Prime Minister Jean Castex, addressing parliament, added that people in retirement homes and some staff working there would get priority for vaccinations.

This follows detail recommendations published by health authority Haut Autorité de Santé which divided the population into five priority groups, with the inhabitants and staff of Ehpads (nursing homes) in the highest priority group.

Worldwide hopes that Covid shots could be ready for use by the end of this year received a boost when US firm Moderna said it was filing on Monday for emergency authorisation of its Covid-19 vaccine in the United States and Europe.

Another vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech has also been submitted for approval on both sides of the Atlantic in recent days, with both inoculations claiming around 95 percent effectiveness.

Pfizer/BioNTech predicted their vaccine could be greenlit in the US shortly after December 10th, while Europe’s medicines regulator said earlier on Tuesday that it would decide by December 29th whether to them grant emergency approval, ahead of Moderna’s treatment.

In France debate has raged over whether the vaccine should be made compulsory, given the historically high levels of vaccine scepticism in the country and the recent poll where only 41 percent of people said they intended to be vaccinated.

However, Macron has already dealt with that issue, declaring unequivocally: “I will not make the vaccine compulsory”.

He had previously said that he hoped to begin vaccinations for the first groups in “late December or early January”.

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