Ministers have made it clear that some schools may have to close in the mornings this winter if France undergoes selective power cuts to cope with energy demand. Coming three years after the first Covid lockdowns, when schools were systematically closed, this policy once again raises questions over the priority being given to ensuring that France's schools remain open and that pupils keep learning. In this op-ed article, Mediapart's education correspondent Mathilde Goanec argues that the universal principle of compulsory education for all is now coming under constant attack.
The Covid-19 vaccine produced by pharmaceutical firm Sanofi has finally been approved by European regulators, well after rival products from its competitors. But while the French fgroup may have been last in getting a vaccine ready to fight the pandemic, it is a different story when it comes to lobbying. As Rozenn Le Saint reports, over the last two years Sanofi has spent more than its rivals in a bid to influence the authorities in Paris and Brussels.
Science journalists have for many years cited the difficulty of conciliating the (long) time required in scientific activity and the (rapid) time in which the media operate. The Covid-19 pandemic came perilously close to joining the two, when an avalanche of scientific papers about the virus were published with such haste that many had to be swiftly retracted. Science journalist and historian Nicolas Chevassus-au-Louis reports on how the pandemic exposed the unvirtuous practices of the lucrative scientific publications business, now brought to a turning point and in need of reinvention.
Despite the return of a rise in recorded daily numbers of Covid-19 infections, the French government has announced the suspension as of March 14th of most of the restrictions introduced to contain the epidemic, including mask-wearing in many public places or the requirement of a valid vaccine pass to access restaurants and leisure venues.
While hospital admissions in France for patients with Covid-19 fell slightly this week, the number of people who have tested positive for infection by the virus that causes the disease has begun to rise again.
The medical profession has been on a steep learning curve about the consequences, notably long-term, of infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Covid-19 disease it causes. But mystery remains over many aspects of the virus, and in particular about its effects, and true infection rates, among the very young. Caroline Coq-Chodorge reports from the south-east French city of Lyon, where paediatricians with the country’s second-largest teaching hospital group recount their findings.
More than 50 people were arrested and several hundred fined as a so-called 'freedom convoy' of vehicles reached Paris in protest over France's Covid-19 vaccine pass requirements for access to a number of public venues.
Before his meeting in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Emmanuel Macron refused to submit to a Russian PCR test for Covid over fears that his DNA could be extracted, sources close to the French president told news agency Reuters.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex and health minister Olivier Véran on Thursday presented the planned gradual lifting of current public restrictions to contain the spread of Covid-19, with mass gatherings allowed from early February, when staff home-working where practical will no longer be required, and the reopening of night clubs after the middle of the month.
French school teachers and education staff held a crippling strike and nationwide protest marches last Thursday over what they say are chaotic and unsafe working conditions brought about by ever-changing, last-minute anti-Covid measures imposed without consultation by the education ministry, and which they too often learn about from the media. Mathilde Goanec has been hearing from teachers and local councils about their nigh impossible mission amid the government’s determination to keep schools open.
An administrative tribunal has overturned a requirement recently imposed by the Paris prefecture for the wearing of masks in outdoor public spaces in the capital, ruling that the measure was disproportionate to the health risks otherwise present and that it did not take into account the locations and timing of mass circulation.
In an interview with daily newspaper Le Parisien French president Emmanuel Macron cheerfully admitted that he wanted to “piss off” those who had chosen not to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as much as possible. The comment has made headlines around the world. But less remarked upon was his extraordinary description of anyone unvaccinated as an “irresponsible person who is no longer a citizen”. In saying this, says Mediapart's political correspondent Ellen Salvi, the head of state – the guarantor of law in the French Republic – has committed a moral, institutional and political error. In this op-ed article she argues that Emmanuel Macron is adding hysteria to the debate, dividing society and giving fresh impetus to the very people he is claiming to be combating.