French health minister: 5% of hospitalised Covid patients have fake health pass

A doctor working in a hospital in France
A doctor working in a hospital in France, which is currently experiencing record Covid rates. (Photo by Nicolas TUCAT / AFP)
As France continues to battle rising Covid case numbers, the great majority of those who end up in intensive care with the virus are unvaccinated - but according to the health minister, a startling number of them also have fake health passes.

As part of the law to turn France’s health pass into a vaccine pass, the government has introduced tougher sanctions for people using fake health passes – there are thought to be more than 180,000 people using them in France at the moment. 

“Fake health passes kill, that is the reality,” said French Health Minister, Olivier Véran. 

READ MORE French MPs approve creation of a vaccine pass

Speaking in the French parliament, he told MPs that five percent of all hospitalised patients in France held a fake health pass, suggesting that they were either completely unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated. 

There is a scientific consensus that even though full vaccination plus a booster shoot doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get Covid, it does limit the chances that you will fall seriously ill from the virus. And the stats back this up. 

What does hospital data tell us about the efficiency of vaccines?

According to the most recent public data set, which was published by the health ministry back in December, non vaccinated people were 38.22 times more likely that people who were fully vaccinated with a booster jab, to be hospitalised after receiving a positive Covid test result.

Unvaccinated people made up 62.1 percent of people in intensive care who had tested positive for Covid, despite making up just 22.4 percent of the population (all ages) by December 19th. 

A more recent, although unofficial, survey found that 80 percent of people in intensive care for Covid were unvaccinated. In one hospital in Marseille, doctors claim that 90 percent of all intensive care patients are unvaccinated. 

Véran, speaking in a press conference on December 27th, said that 80 percent of Covid patients in intensive care were unvaccinated, and of the remaining 20 percent, almost 90 percent had compromised immune systems.

READ MORE How to get a Covid-19 booster dose appointment in France

According to official figures from December, unvaccinated people were four times more likely to die from Covid than people who had been vaccinated and received a booster dose. In reality, this statistic doesn’t adequately reflect the power of vaccines because by mid-December, it was mostly over 65s who had received booster doses. 

The graph below shows the number of hospital deaths on December 19th of people who were completely unvaccinated (far right), versus people who have had a full course of vaccination (the three columns represent various levels of time passed since the patient received a booster dose.

Despite the evidence in favour of vaccination, around five million people over the age of 12 are still unvaccinated in France. 

The imminent implementation of a vaccine pass – and heavier sanctions for those who use fake health passes, is the government’s strategy to increase vaccine coverage. 

READ MORE What will change when France’s health pass becomes a vaccine pass?

The elderly 

The table below demonstrates the number of people admitted into hospital (in blue) and intensive care (in yellow) with Covid in the weeks leading up to the end of 2021. Clearly older people, from about the age of 60 upwards, are significantly more likely to need hospitalisation and intensive care following infection.

Source: Santé publique France

Over the past few weeks, the government appears to have made significant progress in vaccinating the over 80s, who had been significantly lagging behind the rest of the country when it comes to vaccination. 

If you are over 80-years-old, or know someone over 80, and would like to arrange a home-visit vaccination, you can call the government’s helpline on 0800 730 957. The line is open everyday from 6am to 10pm and can also be used to arrange free transport to and from a vaccination site.

Immunodeficient people 

Immunodeficient people, including transplant patients, those using immunosuppression medication and people with auto-immune conditions, are another group that are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 – even if they are fully vaccinated and have received a booster shot. 

According to Le Monde, the intensive care units of some hospitals in France are 30 percent full of immunodeficient Covid patients. Throughout the pandemic, patients’ associations of immunodeficient people have been calling on the government to maintain remote working rules, arguing that to remove such rules was discriminatory. 

There are around 230,000 immunodeficient people in France. 


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