The vaccine pass could be dropped by the “end of March, start of April”, the head of France’s Covid vaccine strategy has said. He also ruled out fourth vaccine doses (i.e. a second booster jab) for now.
Professeur Alain Fischer, speaking to the Senate today (February 9), said that the end of the pass “could come quite quickly”.
He said that it would depend on Covid case rates and pressure on hospitals.
The “incidence rate” must be “at least ten times lower”, he said. This refers to the number of cases per week per 100,000 people. It is currently at 2,498.
The average number of daily reported Covid cases has dropped 28.6% in the past week, making an average of 239,532 cases per day.
Prof Fischer added that the “current hospital overload” must also be reduced, with services returning to normal.
The number of new admissions to hospital for Covid has fallen by 3% in the past week, latest figures show.
The graph below shows the number of daily Covid-related hospital admissions in France.
Government 'wants to' drop vaccine pass
France’s government spokesman Gabriel Attal responded to questions on Prof Fischer’s comments about the vaccine pass a few hours later.
“There are [Covid] measures that still apply, and they are being lifted gradually. I have always said that we will lift the vaccine pass as soon as the situation in the hospital is stable,” he said.
“Prof Fischer said that projections may lead us to hope that in March or April we could lift drop the vaccine pass. Of course we want to.
“Today there is a very strong improvement in terms of cases, but the number of people being hospitalised remains very high."
No plans for fourth Covid dose…yet
Prof Fischer also told the Senate committee that there were no thoughts at the moment to introduce fourth Covid vaccine doses. He added, though, that this could change in the coming weeks.
"It is not impossible that I will say the opposite in a week, this is the difficulty of the exercise, you have to adapt quite often,” he said.
“The Germans have made this decision [to give a fourth dose], but I would like to know how [that will turn out], because it is not completely clear to me.”
Germany’s vaccine commission last week recommended a fourth dose (or a second booster dose), for people at risk of serious forms of Covid, including those aged 70 or over.
Health pass proves effective
Prof Fischer said that “we can estimate that 13% of people in France got vaccinated thanks to the health pass”.
He reiterated that unvaccinated people, especially elderly people, those who have not yet had boosters, or people who are immunocompromised, are the most vulnerable to Covid.
“Vaccination is an act of solidarity towards those who are not vaccinated, who cannot be vaccinated,” he said.
He also expressed doubts about the effectiveness of a mandatory vaccination rule, saying it was still necessary to “do more outreach”.
This is despite the fact that French Health Minister Olivier Véran said in December that: “The vaccine pass is a disguised form of compulsory vaccination.”
A vaccine pass is not a document in of itself, and refers to either proof of being fully vaccinated, or proof of a positive Covid test taken between 11 days and six months prior.
From February 15, the period of validity for certificates of recovery will be shortened to four months.
It is required to enter the majority of leisure-orientated public venues in France for everyone aged 16 and over.
It was introduced on January 24 after protracted debates in parliament.