It was intended to inspire confidence in the AstraZeneca vaccine, the first doses of which arrived in France on Saturday and are now being used in the mass vaccination of healthcare workers.
On Monday, the health minister visited a hospital in Melun, near Paris, and was photographed getting his first dose of the vaccine.
? Covid-19: le ministre de la Santé Olivier Véran reçoit sa première dose de vaccin pic.twitter.com/L0wQOL28jj
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) February 8, 2021
“I continue to recommend vaccination by the AstraZeneca vaccine, which protects against 99 percent of the viruses that are present in our country,” Véran said.
“I encourage all careworkers to get themselves vaccinated in their hospitals, health centres and all available places in order to protect themselves as fast as possible.”
But whatever its effect on vaccine confidence, his photoshoot inspired social media to get involved with jokes and memes.
Some focused on the 40-year-old minister's trim torso, usually hidden behind a crisp white shirt and dark suit.
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Shit guys, Olivier Véran is hot, what do we do now https://t.co/FHWUzKoyEv
— Catherine Bennett (@cfbennett2) February 8, 2021
While others were fascinated by his rather coy pose . . .
« For the love of god don’t let anyone see my nipple » https://t.co/aYRAlitW7F
— Franglaise (@luxurygite) February 8, 2021
. . . with others speculating what he may have been hiding
Pourquoi Olivier Veran cache-t-il ainsi son téton lors de sa vaccination? Voici ma théorie en images ⤵️ ? pic.twitter.com/EGNLTU3DYo
— Christophe Beaugrand-Gerin (@Tof_Beaugrand) February 8, 2021
In a more highbrow tone, others placed Véran's photo within the canon of classic French art, such as this comparison to Eugène Delacroix's famous painting La Liberté guidant le peuple (Liberty leading the people) – and falling out of her blouse while she does so.
How it started / how it’s going, French Health Minister edition pic.twitter.com/nBGslCsz1f
— Liam Stack (@liamstack) February 8, 2021
In this latest edition of European Politicians Remove Their Shirts To Get Vaccinated, Olivier Véran’s coy half-covered pose makes a clear reference to Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading The People. Apt, sophisticated. 5 stars https://t.co/1z8KC5Bm8o
— Katy Lee (@kjalee) February 8, 2021
The French–even when they're just getting innoculated they naturally pose like they're heroes in a Jacques-Louis David painting ❤️ pic.twitter.com/WPlG42Vrww
— ⚖️Barbara Barbeyrac Bunny, Esq. (@RomanticBallad) February 8, 2021
And others reached for more topical political references
Je vous demande de vous arrêter ? pic.twitter.com/ZXJX2inMVL
— Mehdi Mebarki (@MehdiYanis) February 8, 2021
And it wasn't just social media that got involved, the French TV show Quotidien did a short segment on the scene, complete with some striptease music.
— Quotidien (@Qofficiel) February 8, 2021
But at least it seems that Véran is in good company, as male politicians across Europe, including the Greek prime minister and Croatian finance minister have also been making waves with their vaccine photoshoots.
— Fotini Iconomopoulos (@Fotiniicon) February 9, 2021
European politicians appear to be making some sort of coronavirus vaccine beefcake pinup calendar pic.twitter.com/Kfq9hiBzof
— Liam Stack (@liamstack) February 9, 2021