With less than seven percent of its population inoculated against coronavirus, France has now admitted that the Oxford Univeristy-developed AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective for all ages.

Health Minister Olivier Veran told French TV on Tuesday that the vaccine is safe for all age groups and also for those with co-morbidities such as diabetes or cancer.

The minister was attempting to undo the mistrust sown by President Emanuel Macron who had said several weeks ago that the AstraZeneca vaccine was quasi-ineffective for the over-65s, and possibly for the over 60s.

Macron’s incorrect statement has helped keep France’s inoculation rate among the lowest in the EU, a problem compounded by a very slow roll-out of the vaccination programme, red tape and bureaucratic decision-making.

In the UK more than 30 percent of the entire population has received at least one dose, a strategy that has been shown to be very effective in keeping hospital admissions down and preventing deaths.

A political price

On Monday European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen claimed that the EU has jabbed more people than the UK, at 27 million compared to 17 million. However, there are 27 countries in the European Union and many have turned to outside suppliers including Russia, China and Israel.

In several cases vaccines from these three sources have been offered free of charge, but come with a long-term political price.

French vaccination success is vitally important for Monaco, surrounded as it is by French territory.

FILE PHOTO: Olivier Veran Reuters