“A sign of the decline of the country”: Political fall out as French vaccine attempts fail

A political post mortem is currently ongoing in France after the Pasteur Institute conceded defeat and discontinued its principal Covid-19 vaccine project following disappointing clinical trial results.

The French centre for biomedical research had been hoping to develop its own vaccine, working with US pharmaceutical company Merck to rival the British, German and U.S vaccines already being administered to millions around the world.

However, attempts have now been scrapped and with the timeline for the country’s other vaccine attempt by pharmaceutical company Sanofi being delayed until the second half of this year, French politicians are questioning the nation’s standing in the world.

“It’s a sign of the decline of the country and this decline is unacceptable” said Francois Bayrou, a close political ally of President Macron, on Tuesday.

Former Socialist Party presidential candidate Segolene Royal blamed “liberal ideology” for reductions in public funding for vaccine research, while Communist Party’s national secretary Fabien Roussel described the setbacks as a “humiliation”.

The French government has come under fire for its slow roll-out of the vaccine, much of which is due to the European Union’s botched joint procurement agreement.

The country reached a million vaccinations at the weekend, a figure leapt on by Britain’s health secretary Matt Hancock who told Sky News the UK had administered more jabs in the last three days than France had in total.

Pressure grows on President Macron to impose a new lockdown in the country after hospitalisations in France for Covid-19 rose by more than 1,000 in the last two days alone, however the French leader is hoping that a recently-imposed 6pm curfew will see a drop in infection rates.