Former French health authority boss faces legal case for anti-vax stance

Ex-director in Dordogne claims she ‘did everything she could to limit the opening of vaccination centres’ during the Covid pandemic

The health minister said he was “shocked” by the former director’s comment that she “did everything” to prevent the opening of vaccination centres during Covid

A regional health authority in France has made a formal complaint against its former director, accusing her of pursuing anti-vaccine policies during the Covid pandemic.

At a conference on May 8 this year, Marie-Ange Perulli said she had “done everything to limit the opening of vaccination centres” in Dordogne (Nouvelle-Aquitaine) during the Covid crisis when she was the department’s director of the Agence Régionale de Santé (ARS).

She had become director on February 1, 2020, just before the crisis broke out. She is now retired.

The conference had been called by le Conseil scientifique indépendant, in a bid to dispel anti-vax messaging.

Ms Perulli said that she did "everything [I could] to limit the opening of vaccination centres", and that doctors at the time were "following national instructions without free will", under pressure from journalists "who were looking for the smallest issue to complain about”.

But Health Minister Frédéric Valletoux said he was “shocked” by Ms Perulli’s comments. 

Writing on X (Twitter), he said: “Deeply attached as I am to scientific truth, I was shocked by this comment, which is shameful to all health professionals who worked tirelessly during the Covid crisis.

“I have asked that a formal complaint be lodged in court as soon as possible.”

The ARS's current deputy director general, Benoît Elleboode, said that he would lodge a complaint. Also writing on X, he said he deplored Ms Perulli's "strategy", and said that vaccination had saved lives in the department. 

He made a formal complaint to the Ministry of Health on May 27. The ministry has not yet publicly commented on the case since the complaint was lodged.

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The news comes as health professionals continue to urge people in France to employ barrier methods, wear masks, self-isolate in case of infection, and to keep up to date with their Covid boosters amid rising hospitalisations for the illness.