Editorial of the “World”. Who would have believed it ? Nine months after the start of the injection campaign, France has risen among the champion countries of anti-Covid vaccination. Fifty million people will have received at least one dose there by the beginning of September, or 75% of the population. The country, often presented as a nation of rebels, does better than the UK, a pioneer and long champion of Europe, better than Germany, the United States and even Israel, for a time given as an example. Unexpectedly, this vaccination coverage rate makes it possible to approach more serenely a re-entry which seemed threatened by the advance of the aggressive Delta variant. The Covid-19 will not shatter the looming economic recovery and prevent the almost normal return to classrooms and lecture halls.
For the President of the Republic and his government, the success is all the more clear since it occurs after chaotic episodes – shortage of masks, then of vaccines – in the management of the pandemic. It is enhanced by the implementation, without a real hitch, of the health pass, a strategy intended to encourage vaccination for which Mr. Macron took responsibility in his speech of July 12. If the measure continues to arouse opposition, its acceleration effect on the vaccination coverage of the French is spectacular: it has made it possible to jump from 55% to 70% in just over a month.
This rush on vaccination centers following the presidential speech illustrates a French paradox. Reluctant to authority, willingly critical of infantilizing injunctions, the citizens, who are said to be weary of political speeches, have heard that of the president, to the point of largely obeying his instructions. As if they needed a word from above to integrate the real issues of vaccination and accept that the return to social life and the freedom of celebrations and collective trips requires a QR coded. Positive for the health of the French, such an allegiance, sometimes reluctantly, to an Elyos injunction, is not necessarily a sign of the health of democracy.
The indubitable vaccine success allows Emmanuel Macron to approach the campaign for the 2022 presidential election in a good position. But the executive would be wrong to boast. Many things can happen during the eight months between the election. The SARS-CoV-2 virus has already shown its ability to disrupt seemingly acquired situations, and the French vaccination campaign – which is now running out of steam – suffers from several weaknesses: 15% of people over the age of 80 living at home , the most vulnerable, are still not protected and the process of “reaching out” to poor and precarious populations – an innovation that will need to be improved – is struggling to bear fruit quickly.
It is easy for the executive to present itself as a champion of choices based on reason and science. But he doesn’t have a monopoly on it. The worst would be if the relative appeasement of the pandemic front reactivates the reflexes of contempt, even arrogance of the elites, whose devastating character Pierre Rosanvallon analyzes in his latest book. The health success recorded clears the horizon for other essential debates – education, employment, climate, Europe, etc. – and gives new responsibilities to the executive: offering prospects to French people exhausted by eighteen months of Covid-19, and listening to them whatever their attitude about vaccination.
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