Chief vaccine strategist eyes autumn goal for herd immunity in France

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The president of France's vaccine strategy council, Alain Fischer, says he considers herd immunity could be possible by the beginning of autumn, if 90% of the population is vaccinated against Covid-19.

Speaking during a television interview on RTL on Monday, Fisher said France could achieve herd immunity within the next few months. "It's a possibility by early autumn," the immunologist claimed.

Herd immunity is reached when 90% of the population over 12 years old is vaccinated or protected because they have been infected, Fischer said.

The government's current objective is to reach 50 million first doses by the end of August. This corresponds to about 85% of the over 12s who will have received at least one dose.

As of Sunday, over 42 million people had received at least one dose.

A person is fully vaccinated, however, if they have had two doses, or one dose if they have received the single dose Janssen vaccine or if they have recently had Covid, proven by a test.

Vaccine-wary people must be convinced

But although vaccination is progressing very quickly across France "we must finish convincing those who, for the moment, have not been vaccinated", pleaded the doctor, who heads the body responsible for advising the government on its vaccination strategy.

Meanwhile, French hospitals counted 7,581 Covid patients on Sunday compared to 6,843 a week earlier. Intensive care units have received 1,137 seriously ill patients compared to 886 the previous week.

When asked about a making vaccination mandatory, the professor said there was "a good chance of achieving this without obligation."

However he added "if the epidemic was still present at a high level and with herd immunity not far from being reached, then perhaps it would be necessary to resort to vaccination obligation".

"It is a duty of collective protection", he argued, "we are protecting people's lives, protecting our hospital system which could be threatened at any moment by a resumption of the epidemic".

As for the injection of a third dose, Fischer said only the most fragile people should be considered for now: The elderly over 75 to 80 years of age and immunocompromised people.

For the rest of the population, "we can wait a little and see what the data on the persistence of immunity will be," he concluded.

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