France Hits Goal of 10 Million Covid First Jabs a Week Early

France met its target of inoculating 10 million people with a first dose of anti-Covid vaccine on Thursday, a week ahead of schedule, as the country endures its third lockdown.

Some 316,327 people got their first injection in the last 24 hours, bringing that total to 10.1 million, or 15.1% of the entire population, the Health Ministry said in a statement. In addition, 121,534 people got their second jab, taking the number of fully vaccinated people to almost 3.5 million.

“We are a week ahead on the goal we set,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said during a visit to a vaccination center near Paris. The next target is 20 million doses injected by mid-May and then 30 million by mid-June.

France opened mass vaccination centers across the country this week in a bid to further accelerate the roll-out of the shots, in a campaign that began sluggishly after the first vaccine was administered on Dec. 27. The slow start was mostly due to a shortage of doses and growing mistrust of the AstraZeneca Plc vaccine linked to concerns on potentially lethal side effects. Worries about the shot prompted some people to cancel planned vaccinations in hopes of getting later appointments using a different drug.

Rising Proportion

While the proportion of the population that wants to be vaccinated rose to 70% in April from 42% in December, 71% of French people don’t trust the AstraZeneca vaccine, according to an Odoxa-Backbone Consulting poll for Le Figaro and France Info published Thursday. On the other hand, 70% of those polled trust vaccines made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE.

French President Emmanuel Macron said last week he hopes museums and restaurant terraces can reopen by mid-May thanks to the nationwide lockdown -- the third France has been through -- as well as the initial vaccination effects.

But despite some encouraging signs from districts placed under lockdown ahead of the rest of the country, the situation is still worrying, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said during a news conference.

“This is not the time to give up,” Attal said after a cabinet meeting. “The vaccine is the direct path to freedom.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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