UPDATED Sunday, July 4, 22:45: French health minister Olivier Véran made it clear on Friday that the best, and possibly the only, strategy to battle coronavirus infections is a speeding-up of the country’s vaccination program.

He said that the Delta variant now accounts for one-third of new infections, and due to its ease of transmission this could “come to spoil the summer.”

Speaking on Friday, July 2, Mr Véran said 1.5 million vaccine doses do not have takers, as the vaccination program slows largely as a result of public scepticism over the safety of the vaccines.

Vaccination must not be compulsory, he said. However, everything will be done to facilitate inoculation.

From Monday, July 5, there will be an automatic right for employees to take time off work to get jabbed, and it will also be possible to have two injections in two different places, a useful strategy for holidaymakers.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said: “The vaccination campaign is taking place in a context where the Delta variant is gaining ground. The incidence rate is no longer decreasing.”

Meanwhile, in Ireland, the deputy prime minister said that a fourth wave will arrive this summer due to the Delta variant. However, he discounted the idea of a fourth lockdown. Leo Varadkar added that the country will “weather” a new spike in cases by upping the vaccination campaign, keeping current restrictions in place and introducing vaccine passes for indoor dining, the Irish Independent reported.

The Delta variant, previously known as the Indian variant, established a beachhead in Europe as flights from India continued to arrive in the UK during the upsurge in the pandemic in the sub-continent in May and early June. The slow take-up of vaccines in areas with a substantial Indian population made the situation worse, and now 95 percent of new UK infections involve the Delta variant.

European leaders have concluded that it’s too late to try to keep the variant out and that the only way forward is through vaccinations.

The infectious Delta variant is now the dominant strain of the coronavirus in California, underscoring its danger to people who have not yet been vaccinated, the LA Times reported on July 4.

In the UK 49 percent of the total population has received two doses, with a further 17 percent having had one shot, while in France the figures were 31 percent and 19 percent as of July 1.

On Sunday, July 4, 2,549 new cases and nine new deaths were reported in France. In the UK the figures were 24,248 new cases and 15 new deaths.

FILE PHOTO: Olivier Véran Screenshot