Shapps in subtle dig at France as he mocks failure to deliver Covid vaccine quickly

Grant Shapps discusses France’s Covid-19 vaccine

Mr Shapps raised the problems France have had speeding up their vaccination programme in a not so subtle dig aimed at Emmanuel Macron’s government for the “difficult time” they have experienced. The Transport Secretary also took the opportunity to tell BBC Breakfast’s Charlie Stayt how well the UK government has performed in comparison to the French saying, “unlike the UK they have not been able to roll out the vaccine.”

Government Minister said: “France have also been having a difficult time as you know and unlike the United Kingdom they have not been able to roll out the vaccine at the same speed.”

In response to a question on what tests travellers from the UK to France would need to take, Mr Shapps replied: “First of all no one should be going to France.

“Let’s just put that on the record again. No one should be travelling. Secondly, we have a particular arrangement with the French in regards to hauliers so this is now the lorry drivers and your viewers will remember the kent disruption when the French closed their borders and it brought kent to a standstill.

“We have a particular arrangement there with tests which is called the lateral flow test.”

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His remarks follow those of a Labour MP who recently highlighted that covid vaccination rates in the Greater Manchester area are outperforming major European nations, including those of France.

Speaking on Monday, Mr Stringer told Express.co.uk: “Health officials in Salford tell me they have vaccinated more people than France which is a symbolic indicator that, by being out of the EU, we can do things better.

“I’m very optimistic about being away from its very slow regulatory embrace.”

Figures for Greater Manchester show 43,455 people in the top two priority groups – frontline health care workers and people aged over 80 – had been vaccinated by January 3.

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Only 516 people had been vaccinated in France by the same date and this was branded a “state scandal” by French politician Jean Rottner.

The Manchester number is likely to have increased significantly as the UK hurtles forward with its vaccination campaign, described as the biggest in British history, though up-to-date numbers are yet to be released.

Figures, calculated by ourworldindata.org and Politico, indicate Belgium had administered around 54,000 vaccinations as of January 13.

France has now administered around 247,000 vaccines while the Netherlands has recorded 47,000, the data suggests. The UK has vaccinated more than three million.

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The EU initially ordered 300 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab after approving it just before Christmas.

But further red tape in France – including the need for a large dossier to be read to care home staff – slowed vaccination targets.

Those receiving the vaccine in France also have to give consent to a doctor five days in advance, and there is greater scepticism than in the UK, with polls suggesting as many as 58 percent of the public do not want to be immunised.

Germany, the world’s fourth-largest economy, had inoculated fewer people than the UK, US and Israel at the start of the year – despite vaccine producer BioNTech being based in Mainz.

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