Covid vaccine in France: Alain Fischer to “take time to assess”

Published by Elodie D. · Published on 7 December 2020 at 15h46
Coronavirus vaccine is expected in France from January 2021. In an interview with JDD, head of the vaccine strategy board meeting Alain Fischer returns on the keys of vaccination in France. He reminds it is necessary to “take time to assess”. He says, the worst could be the French saying “there we go, we have vaccines, everything is settled and let’s go”.

The French National Institute for Health and Medical Research has announced to start testing vaccine on 41,000 volunteers. As for the government, they bet on January to start the vaccine campaign in France. They also asked for the creation of a vaccine strategy board meeting with 71-year-old pediatrist Alain Fischer at the head. Some already call him “mister vaccine” but he guarantees to Journal du Dimanche, he is part of a group involved in this mission.

In compliance with the recommendations from the Haute Autorité de Santé, will be vaccinated – based on willingness – one million elderly people living in nursing homes and other facilities, as well as the staff likely to develop a severe form of the disease. This population has been chosen because they develop the most severe cases, but Alain Fischer guarantees vaccine will be proceeded only after “their prior consent, or families’ in the event of cognitive disorders”.

A clear and honest message

And faced with the French’s worries, the 71-year-old pediatrist reminds the necessary pragmatism in medicine: “We have to say things as they are, or we are not credible. When we know, we know. When we don’t know, we don’t know. […] Most of the population is rather reasonable to understand this message. It cannot be otherwise, for ethical and effective measures”. And he does bury his head in the sand: “when it comes to public health, we must try to convince first”.

 He understands the French are worried and underlines questions the board will have to answer. First as for the RNA vaccines, a technology never used on humans. But, according to the doctor, these vaccines “seem effective if data are to be confirmed”. He reminds: “pieces of RNA enter the cells, but not their nucleus. They cannot change the genome. They are fragile and the organism destroys them very quickly”.

Necessary time

Faced with the risk of severe side-effects, Alain Fischer answers “yes, there will be side effects” but he reminds the risk-advantage ratio of vaccines. “Are advantages expected to protect from a potentially serious disease very higher to the possible risk of a pathology related to vaccine?” According to the doctor, “small margins of uncertainties are still there but according to the partial data we have, this risk is very low”.

As the United Kingdom launches the vaccine campaign on Tuesday December 8, doctors ask for vaccinations to start from January 4, 2021. To this, Alain Fischer answers: “we better take the time to assess and organize. It’d better be working by using a few more weeks”.

Practical information

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