The French government has defended its coronavirus vaccination policy against criticism that it is going far too slowly, with 516 vaccinations reported in the first week.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the delay was down to logistics: teams had to visit elderly people in care homes and get each person’s consent.
The EU began vaccinating with Pfizer/BioNTech doses on 27 December.
By Sunday morning about 240,000 had been vaccinated in Germany.
The UK has become the first country in the world to start giving people the Oxford-Astra Zeneca coronavirus vaccine. About a million people have already been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech drug in the UK.
Gabriel Attal, quoted by French news website LCI, said the government was following scientific advice, prioritising the elderly in care homes.
“A more gradual launch is necessary for logistical reasons: you cannot ask these people to go somewhere else in the country, and the delay is also linked to a pre-vaccination consultation and getting consent. This takes a bit more time.”
France is among Europe’s hardest-hit countries in the pandemic. Its Covid-19 death toll so far is 65,037 – just behind Italy and the UK. French hospitals are treating 24,780 Covid patients, BFMTV reports.