Anatomy of a disaster: how the start of France's vaccine campaign went badly wrong

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The initial slowness in the rollout of its vaccination campaign against Covid-19 has sparked a major political row in France. An investigation by Mediapart can now reveal that a failure of logistics prevented the Pfizer vaccine from being distributed more quickly. As with the earlier debacle over face masks, the Ministry of Health failed to react quickly enough to events and by the end of December had only managed to put in place 38 of the 113 special freezers needed to store the doses at low temperatures. At least three weeks were lost as a result, report Caroline Coq-Chodorge and Antton Rouget.

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It is one of the strategic posts overseeing the distribution of vaccines in France and yet it is currently vacant. According to Mediapart's information, the head of the 'alert and crisis department' (DAC) at the public health agency Santé Publique France (SPF), which has been tasked by health minister Olivier Véran with distributing millions of doses of vaccine against Covid-19, was not immediately replaced when she left her job on December 31st 2020.