As of Friday, 80,000 French citizens had been vaccinated against the coronavirus to date. By comparison, neighboring Germany has performed hundreds of thousands of inoculations.
The success or failure of vaccinating the population is likely to shape the political debate as the campaign for the 2022 presidential race heats up in the coming months.
“While the 2022 presidential election still looks a long way off, President Macron certainly fears that a poorly executed vaccine rollout will hurt his chances of winning another term,” Jessica Hinds, European economist at Capital, told CNBC on Thursday. Economics. .
Macron was neck and neck with far-right leader Marine Le Pen in an opinion poll published in October.
The French president is said to have complained that the rhythm of the vaccinations was “not worthy of the moment or of the French people” and declared that the situation “must change quickly and in particular,” Le Journal du Dimanche reported earlier this month. The president’s office was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC on Monday.
“A slow rate of vaccination would limit the government’s ability to lift restrictions on the economy and the daily lives of citizens. It would be clearly unpopular among (French) voters, especially if other countries like Germany are able to remove them. earlier, ”Hinds said.
Paperwork was the main reason for the delays. Citizens had to be consulted before vaccination and obtain the consent of their doctor before a stroke.
“What I find striking in the French strategy is that the officials have not paid much attention to logistics, to the essentials,” said Jeremy Ghez, professor at HEC Paris Business School, by e -mail to CNBC.
Reports from the country also suggest that there is a strong anti-vaccine sentiment among the population, compared to other countries.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran initially suggested the cautious distribution took into account concerns about the vaccine among the general population. An Ipsos poll published at the end of December showed that only 40% of French people intended to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
But the French government now wants to reverse the situation by simplifying the process. Frenchman Veran said people aged 75 and over will be able to make an appointment on the internet or by phone to be vaccinated.
The country is also expanding the eligibility criteria and the government has promised that a million people will be vaccinated before the end of the month.
France has been one of the nations hardest hit by the pandemic. Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday that restaurants and ski resorts would remain closed until at least mid-February and that the nighttime curfew would be extended until the end of January.
Social restrictions weigh on the economy. France’s GDP is expected to have contracted by more than 9% in 2020.
The slower the deployment of vaccines, the more segments of the economy will remain closed.
“The French economy is under anesthesia and it is only by pulling the budget cap that you will really know how quickly economic players can bounce back. If it happens quickly, I like the odds of Macron as there are so few alternatives so far. If so no, I would say all bets are off, ”said Ghez of how economic performance will influence the presidential vote.
Macron beat Le Pen in 2017 on a pro-EU agenda.