Emmanuel Macron: Anti-vaxxers have ‘lost their minds’

French president lashes out at protesters after third week of demonstrations against Covid pass

A protester wearing a yellow vest is seen at a demonstration in Paris against the French Covid-19 health pass. EPA
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French President Emmanuel Macron has accused thousands of anti-vaccine protesters of “losing their minds” after the third consecutive week of demonstrations against his vaccine passport plans.

The country’s new system of vaccine passes requires people to show they are vaccinated or Covid negative before they can enter bars, restaurants or cultural attractions.

Announced on July 12, it is also mandatory for air and rail travel, and is intended to boost vaccination rates as France battles a surge in cases.

Anti-vaccine activists have taken to the streets of major French cities for three weekends in a row.

They say the system is unfair and that any government that mandates vaccination for everyday activities is oppressive.

In an interview with Paris Match magazine, Mr Macron said he would refuse to “give in to their radical violence”.

“Their attitude is a threat to democracy. They mix up everything,” he said.

“A few tens of thousands of people have lost their minds to such an extent that they are capable of saying we live in a dictatorship.”

Emmanuel Macron offered to ask people's questions about vaccines on Instagram and TikTok. AP

Mr Macron recently took to TikTok and Instagram to answer questions from vaccine sceptics.

He also accused some politicians, whom he did not name, of being too soft on the anti-vaxxer movement.

Anti-vaccine protesters have assaulted journalists covering the demonstrations and stormed vaccination clinics, local media reported.

Anti-vaccine outbursts have also risen sharply in Poland.

A mobile vaccination clinic was attacked on Sunday, and all all the doses of the vaccine stored on site are thought to have been destroyed.

“It was an act of terror, directed not only against employees of the vaccination centre and people who get vaccinated, but also against the state,” said Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski.

No perpetrator has been identified.

A French survey published on Wednesday by polling company Elabe showed only 37 per cent of those surveyed supported the protests.

Depending on the context, between 55 per cent and 63 per cent of people interviewed said they had no concern about presenting the health passport, which contains data on Covid-19 test results and vaccination status.

The French government also wants people who test positive to self-isolate. It has also called for the mandatory Covid-19 shots for health care workers for health workers.

Unvaccinated people who wish to attend public events in France or travel can be tested for the virus free of charge, but from autumn they will have to bear the cost.

The Elabe poll also showed that 61 per cent of those surveyed were in favour of compulsory vaccination, unchanged from a month ago. Two thirds of French adults are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to government data.

France reported 26,829 new daily infections on Tuesday. This is about 5,000 more than the seven-day average, but still far below this year’s peak, in early April, of 84,999 cases.

Within the past week, there were 44 daily Covid-related deaths on average.

Updated: August 04, 2021, 4:03 PM