Macron: Covid crisis in French Caribbean is ‘cruel proof’ that vaccines work

President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday said that a health crisis caused by escalating Covid-19 infections in French overseas territories in the Caribbean, where vaccination rates remain low, was "cruel proof" of the need for jabs against the virus.

Macron: Covid crisis in French Caribbean is 'cruel proof' that vaccines work
Photo: Jody Amiet/AFP

France’s overseas territories across the globe, but especially the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe, are seeing sky-rocketing virus cases and hospitalisations amid vaccination rates that are dramatically lower than on the mainland.

“On these territories the vaccination is still at a very low rate, a third that of mainland France. Just 20 percent of people over the age of 12 are double vaccinated compared with 66 percent in mainland France,” Macron told a meeting of senior health officials.

“It is an urgent scenario. If we needed proof that the vaccination is the best response to the (faster-spreading) Delta variant, unfortunately these places have provided, if I can put it this way, a cruel proof,” he told the meeting of France’s Defence Council, which he chaired via videolink from the presidential summer residence in the south of France.

He added: “There is an explosion of serious illness (in the Caribbean). The situation is dramatic and requires solidarity from the entire nation.”

French Overseas Territories Minister Sebastien Lecornu told AFP on Tuesday before heading to the area that Guadeloupe was seeing over 1,700 cases for 100,000 inhabitants and Martinique 1,165.

The below chart from Le Parisien reporter Nicolas Berrod shows the incidence rate in mainland France, compared to Martinique and Gaudeloupe.

Macron has faced four consecutive weekends of street protests over the implementation of a health pass that means people need to be double vaccinated — or recently tested or recovered — to visit a cafe or travel on an inter-city train.

But with hospitalisations again rising in France as it battles a fourth wave, Macron said that the health pass, which is aimed at encouraging people to get vaccinated, was the only way forward.

READ ALSO OPINION: Macron’s health passport is an unsung triumph for France

“No sector can act as if as nothing is happening… We have no other choice, it was that or closing down the country with new curfews and lockdowns,” he said.

“The health crisis is not finished. We will live with this virus for several more months.”

Member comments

  1. So Macron claims 66 percent of the French population, mainland, has been double vaccinated? Yet I read, I think on the WHO site, that Frances vaccine rate is only 49 percent! Politicians who would believe them?

    1. ..Someone once said that politicians use statistics much like a drunk man a lamppost, more for leaning than for illumination.

    2. The problem is the baseline. The 66%-ish figure uses a baseline of those eligible (i.e., 12-years-old and older), whilst the 50%-ish figure is essentially the entire population. There are very possibly other glitches as well, but essentially the difference is due to differing baselines with associated caveats.

      The important thing is this: Are you fully-vaccinated? If not, when do you expect to be?

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France approves new vaccines for Covid Omicron sub-variants

France's health authority said Tuesday it had approved three new vaccines against the prevalent Omicron sub-variants of the Covid-19 virus, in a bid to prevent a jump in infections as colder weather approaches.

France approves new vaccines for Covid Omicron sub-variants

The so-called “bivalent: shots, approved by the European Medicines Agency earlier this month, target the BA.1, BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron variants, now responsible for the bulk of new cases since the outbreak began worldwide in early 2020.

French authorities are urging at-risk patients — including those over 60 or adults with pre-existing conditions — to get the bivalent vaccines as part of its booster campaign.

“The number of infections has again started rising in the past few days,” the HAS health authority said, noting that the BA.5 sub-variant was causing the most new cases.

The new vaccine targeting the highly contagious BA.4 and BA.5 types is made by Pfizer and BioNTech, while jabs from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are for BA.1.