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COVID-19 herd immunity in France possible by autumn: gov't coordinator

N.C.N. Limited 徽标 N.C.N. Limited 2021/8/2 Soniahuxue
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A woman walks on the Champs Elysees Avenue in Paris, France, June 17, 2021. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)

Alain Fischer, coordinator of France's COVID-19 vaccination campaign, said that "vaccination is progressing very quickly these days," making it possible to reach herd immunity by autumn.

PARIS, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- Alain Fischer, coordinator of France's COVID-19 vaccination campaign, said here on Monday that the country could reach herd immunity against COVID-19 by this autumn, calling on the still reluctant segments of the French population to get vaccinated to help cope with highly transmissible Delta variant.

In an interview with RTL radio, Fischer noted that "vaccination is progressing very quickly these days," making it possible to reach herd immunity by autumn.

"The Delta variant is highly contagious and it requires an energetic vaccination campaign to achieve herd immunity," he said.

Herd immunity is achieved when 90 percent of the population over 12 years of age is vaccinated or protected because they have been infected.

To date, France has fully inoculated more than 35 million citizens out of around 67 million, according to the Health Ministry.

Fischer warned that "no one is safe from the serious form of infection," noting that unvaccinated people "make up most of those" who suffer from the serious forms of the respiratory illness.

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Tony, 18 years old, receives his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at the Porte de Versailles Exhibition Center in Paris, France, May 28, 2021.  (Photo by Aurelien Morissard/Xinhua)

Asked whether vaccination should be mandatory, the immunologist said such move would be necessary if the virus continues to circulate and that herd immunity is still out of reach.

"It is a duty of collective protection. We are protecting people's lives, protecting our hospital system, which can be threatened at any time by the resurgence of the pandemic," he said.

To counter a sharp spike in COVID-19 infections, the French government has decided to make vaccination mandatory for health workers and impose the use of the "health pass" at a wider range of public places, including restaurants and cafes, shopping centers, gyms and even hospitals except for emergencies.

As of Aug. 1, France counted 6.14 million COVID-19 cases with 19,600 new infections reported in one day, the health authorities said.

Coronavirus-related hospitalizations continued to increase. On Monday, 7,581 people were hospitalized, 1,137 of them in intensive care. 

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