French President Emmanuel Macron has admitted failures in the country's vaccination campaign and vowed to accelerate the rollout, days after the government was forced to impose new coronavirus restrictions to contain a surge of Covid-19 sweeping the country.
“We weren’t fast enough, strong enough on it,” Macron told Greek television channel ERT Wednesday, in a rare admission of failure regarding Europe’s vaccination efforts.
“We didn’t shoot for the stars as much as others. I think that should be a lesson for all of us. We were wrong to lack ambition, to lack the madness, to say, ‘It’s possible, let’s do it’,” Macron said.
“You can give that to the Americans, as early as the summer of 2020 they said: let’s pull out all the stops and do it. They had more ambition than us,” he said in the interview, “We didn’t think [the production of a vaccine] would happen that quickly.”
He added, “Everybody, all the experts said: Never in the history of mankind was a vaccine developed in less than a year.”
On Tuesday, the French president declared the vaccination campaign a “national priority,” promising to put the rollout at the heart of the country's Covid-19 battle.
As of Monday, 9.3% of the total French population had been partially vaccinated, according to Our World in Data.
Last week, French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced new coronavirus restrictions in 16 regions, including the greater Paris and Nice areas, as the country attempts to contain a third wave of infections.
Outdoor social gatherings of more than six people are now illegal in France, as part of efforts to contain the country’s Covid-19 outbreak, an interior ministry spokeswoman told CNN Thursday.
France’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin told police chiefs Wednesday to “be strict” with the rule of six, particularly in the 16 regions that are under lockdown lite, according to the spokeswoman.
The new measures, which went into effect Friday at midnight, will last at least four weeks but are less restrictive than measures imposed in March and November of last year.