Macron REJECTS pleas from regional leaders to bypass EU and secure Covid vaccine supplies

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Some areas have reported 50 percent shortfalls in the number of doses they have received forcing health chiefs to cancel appointments and leaving thousands of citizens still vulnerable. One of the country’s hardest-hit regions, Provence-Alpes-Côte d´Azur (PACA), said its requests to order straight from the manufacturers had been rejected by Mr Macron’s ministers.

The national government does not allow me to buy vaccines for my region

Renaud Muselier

PACA President Renaud Muselier lashed out at the government and warned its policy of centralisation had paralysed the vaccine roll-out.

He said: “The national government does not allow me to buy vaccines for my region.

“I offered to buy vaccines directly from Moderna but the government refused.”

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Mr Muselier later took to social media to warn political decisions were putting the lives of citizens at risk.

He tweeted: “No geopolitics when the health of the French is at stake.

“If the Russian vaccine Sputnik-V vaccine is reliable and certified, then it must be used!

“Anything that can accelerate the return to life must be done in the face of Covid-19.”

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French National Assembly member Guillaume Peltier also urged Mr Macron to break ranks with Brussels and start ordering much-needed vaccine supplies directly but was again rebuffed by ministers and MEPs.

French MEP Nathalie Loiseau, a former Minister for Europe in the Macron administration, tweeted: “When an order is late to be delivered, the solution is not to pass a second one to the same supplier, but to get them to produce more and faster. Guillaume Peltier, you know that.”

Current Minister for Europe Clement Beaune blamed drug companies rather than Brussels for the delays and shortages.

He said: “We did not buy at a European Union level for budgetary reasons but because it is the best way to have guaranteed access, over time, to all vaccines.

“The subject is not the European framework, but the pace of production, we are speeding it up.”

The row comes after financial analysts warned the EU vaccine fiasco could drag the bloc into a catastrophic economic crisis.

A major new impact study by insurance group Allianz and credit insurer Euler Hermes showed the EU risked a £79bn hit to its economy this year unless it catches up with vaccine roll-outs in other parts of the world.

Member states have so far given first doses to about three percent of their populations, compared with more than 14 percent in the UK and nine percent in the USA.

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The report said the EU would need a six-fold increase in the rate of vaccinations to reach its goal of 70 percent immunity in adults by the summer.

According to the study, EU countries are currently five weeks behind their schedule.

At the current pace, herd immunity would not be achieved before 2022 and the longer it takes to vaccinate Europe’s population, the longer the economy will be hampered by restrictions and lockdowns.

The study said: “One euro that is spent on speeding up vaccinations through infrastructure, increased vaccine production could avert four times as many euros in losses.”

(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)

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