The perception and the reality
France – the country of Pasteur, Marie Curie, Descartes, and Pascal – has a problem with vaccine hesitancy. Their own President, in a bizarre moment of self-harm, decided to declare the Oxford/Astra-Zeneca vaccine as “quasi-ineffective” for older people. Add this to long-standing issues with skepticism about vaccines generally, and you have a recipe for a country that is going to struggle to get jabs into arms – potentially resulting in France never being truly free of Coronavirus.
So… how bad is it? Well, fortunately, the EU (for all its myriad faults) is fairly open as far as giving massive amounts of direct data dumps. You can see deliveries by country by vaccine type; you can see inventories of vaccine (again by country and by vaccine manufacturer); you can see how many people have been single and how many people double jabbed. Let’s start off with the EU level data.
Across the whole of the EU, 26.5% of people have received at least one dose of a CV19 vaccine. Which is way behind the US and the UK, but is well ahead of the 13.6% of people who had one dose at the end March. The “number one” country by first doses is Hungary, which bought Russia’s Sputnik-V, and which is at 44.6%. Also doing well is Finland, which has followed the UK strategy of prioritising first doses, and which has managed 34.6%.
How badly is France doing? Slightly surprisingly, it’s a smidgen ahead of the EU average, with 26.7% of people having gotten at least one jab. That’s well ahead of Greece (23.6%) and miles ahead of laggard Latvia (just 13.4%).
Even more surprising is that France has one of the lowest levels of “inventory” in the whole EU. If you look at the gap between doses received and doses administered, you see France has used 88% of the doses it has received, which beats all the large EU countries except Spain. Germany is on 86%, Poland 85%, Sweden 83%, Italy 82% and the Netherlands just 81%.
So. Hmmmmm. We have a quandary. On the one hand, we have a lot of anecdotal evidence that the French are turning away from vaccines. And on the other hand, the actual data seems to suggest that they are doing slightly better than the EU average for first jab take-up, and a lot better at actually using all their inventory of doses
Now, this doesn’t mean there isn’t a ceiling on France’s vaccine roll out. I highly doubt they will reach the same level we will in the UK. But it’s also the case that – right now – they’re not having any problems finding people who want to be vaccinated.