PARIS (Reuters) -France is unlikely to return to normal post-coronavirus life before autumn next year as it could take longer than initially envisioned to roll out vaccines, a senior government scientific adviser said on Friday.
“Vaccines are a major source of hope but if you look at the vaccination capabilities that we will have in France and elsewhere in Europe, we will need time,” immunologist Jean-François Delfraissy told BFM television.
“The production of vaccines will be slower than envisioned 15 days or three weeks ago,” he said. “We will not face a vaccine shortfall but we will have something that is more spread out over time.”
Delfraissy estimated there were 22 million people in France more vulnerable than others and that it could take until May to vaccinate them all, before shots could be rolled out to others.
Asked if this meant the French would continue facing restrictions in their daily lives to fight COVID-19 infections until autumn 2021, he said: “More or less.”
People in France could start receiving the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech in the last week of December if the European Union approves it next week, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Wednesday.
France recorded 18,254 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, health director Jerome Salomon said on Thursday, the highest daily tally since Nov. 20. France ranks fifth globally for cases with more than 2.42 million so far.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by David Clarke)