Emmanuel Macron humiliated: President accused of speaking ‘gibberish’ by Frexit rival

Tony Blair labels Macron’s vaccine comment as ‘incorrect’

France has faced particular criticism for the pace of the rollout, while the European Commission’s insistence on procuring vaccines on a bloc-wide basis has also prompted considerable dissension. However, during an interview with French broadcaster LCI, the French President insisted the strategy was working, claiming vaccinations were happening “at the rate that was expected” and that France needed to do things “in a European way” – while also suggesting his country could also invest in Russia’s Sputnik vaccine.

What infamous gibberish

Florian Philippot

Eurosceptic and Frexit campaigner Florian Philippot was quick to respond, tweeting: “‘A European way’? What on earth is that?

“What infamous gibberish from someone who does not think of himself as French and would like us to do the same!”

Speaking last night, Mr Macron said: “The vaccine strategy is taking place at the rate that was expected.”

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Europe had “secured” the supply of 2.3 doses, Mr Macron claimed, adding: “We hope to have even more.”

He also pledged vaccinations for all French people who wanted one “by the end of summer”.

Mr Macron also estimated that by the beginning of March, 80 percent of nursing home residents – some 500,000 people – would have been vaccinated.

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Controversially, he also suggested France could be open to the idea of procuring Russia’s Sputnik vaccine, which tests have suggested has an efficacy rate of 91 percent.

He explained: “For a vaccine to be authorised, it must be approved. We cannot distribute it in France until the Russian producer has submitted a marketing authorisation.

“As long as it files it, the authorities will look at it in a scientific and independent manner. It is not a political, but scientific decision.”

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Nevertheless, such a move would be problematic given the EU’s condemnation of Mr Putin’s decision to imprison Russian dissident politician Alexei Navalny this week.

Assessing France’s management of the pandemic in a subsequent interview with TC1, Mr Macron added: “We will continue to manage this epidemic in this way with an objective, which is to protect the weakest, our health system and also to be able to protect our youth as much as possible.”

Refusing to rule out another national lockdown, he urged French people to be “collectively responsible, as they have been for several weeks.”

He added: “Every day, we check the figures, every day we monitor the situation.

“It is extremely tense, but I have confidence in our ability to respond.”

Mr Macron yesterday met with European Commissioners Thierry Breton and Stella Kyriakides, plus representatives of major pharmaceutical companies including BioNTech, Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca.

Afterwards, his spokesman said the objective had been to “draw up an inventory of the production capacity” of vaccines at French and European levels and “to call for maximising this capacity in the short term” to “increase it rapidly and significantly”.

At the start of talks, Mr Macron said he was keen to find “the ways and means to improve the production offer in France and in Europe, in the short term, but also to produce more in the medium term.”

He added: “All solutions must be explored.”

(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)

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