Macron left to rue attacks on AstraZeneca as thousands spurn jab despite soaring deaths

Macron is a ‘little king in his castle’ says protester

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Health authorities in the Mediterranean city had obtained 4,000 doses of the Oxford jab and had intended to vaccinate teachers and police over the age of 55 on Saturday and Sunday. However only 50 people signed up to the scheme, resulting in the vaccine centre closing its doors early at 1pm on Saturday. Anne Frackowiak-Jacobs, the sub-prefect of nearby Grasse, told The Sun that the low uptake was almost certainly down to fears about the safety of the vaccine, that had partly been fuelled by Mr Macron.

She said: “There were people who turned around when they learned that it was the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

The French President’s constantly shifting and contradictory statements about the jab appear to have taken their toll on public confidence

At various times, Mr Macron has publicly questioned its efficacy and safety – at one stage even temporarily suspending its use.

He famously described the vaccine as being “quasi-effective”, before agreeing himself to take it.

Although the vaccine has been linked to a small number of very rare blood clots , the European Medicines Agency has continued to advocate its use, saying the benefits outweighed the risks.

France has purchased 4.7 million doses of the Oxford jab, but so far has only administered 2.3 million, according to data provided by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

The country has seen coronavirus infections surge in recent months, forcing the French President to introduce yet another lockdown at the beginning of April.

Covid deaths also reached a new grim milestone last week, when they surpassed 100,000 – the eigth-highest in the world.

Acknowledging the fact, Mr Macron said on Thursday: “As all our energy is now focused on exiting this ordeal, we will not forget any face or any name.”

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The French President came in for a barrage of criticism when he was forced to reintroduce the lockdown and now faces a fight to save his political career.

Bruno Cautrès told the New York Times that Mr Macron’s handling of the pandemic could be a decisive factor in next year’s presidential elections, where he faces a strong challenge from Marine Le Pen.

The political scientist, from the Center for Political Research at Sciences Po in Paris, said at the time of announcement of the new lockdown: “What appears today is, on the contrary, the idea of a head of state who plays it by ear and who doesn’t really know where he’s going.

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