A leading virologist and vaccinologist in France has stated that the country is on track to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19 by the end of the summer, based on the rate of vaccinations.
Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, who is also the president of the comité scientifique sur les vaccins Covid-19 and the director of research at French research institute Inserm, said yesterday (May 20) she believed the country was on the right path.
It comes as France broke its record for the most number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in one day, injecting over 672,000 yesterday (May 20).
Prime Minister Jean Castex also announced yesterday that the vaccination campaign would be opened to all over 18s from May 31, two weeks sooner than initially planned.
La vaccination est ouverte à tous les Français de plus de 18 ans dès les 31 mai prochain. pic.twitter.com/4126xX0PJW— Jean Castex (@JeanCASTEX) May 20, 2021
France will also open up the vaccination campaign to 16- and 17-year-olds in June, the president of France’s vaccination strategy council Professor Alain Fischer revealed today (May 21).
Herd immunity is when a population is indirectly protected from an infectious disease due to the fact that a large enough percentage of the population is immune, either from vaccinations or previous infections.
There are ongoing debates about what percentage of a population would need to be immune to Covid-19 before herd immunity is achieved, but most medical experts suggest somewhere between 80 to 90% to be certain.
France has currently given a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination to one third of its entire population and a full dosage to 15%.
Dr Kieny said it was important for the vaccination to be given to young people as well as older people to control the pandemic.
“We need young people to want to be vaccinated because we need 80% of the population to be vaccinated to achieve this herd immunity, which would almost completely prevent the virus from circulating,” she told Franceinfo.
"For that to happen, it is not just the elderly who need to be vaccinated, it has to be young people.
“So, the fact that young people understand that to be able to go out, to be able to go back to a more normal life, they have to get vaccinated, I think that's very good."
She added, though, that the virus has "taught us not to be too confident".
The graph below shows the percentage of the French population that has been vaccinated by age.
The French government is aiming to give at least a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to 30 million people by mid-June and all willing adults by the end of the summer.
It achieved its previous goal of giving a first dose to 20 million people by the middle of May.