Ex-president Sarkozy’s entourage denies claims of jumping vaccine queue
Issued on: Modified:
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been vaccinated against the coronavirus, a source close to the ex-leader has confirmed, saying the 66-year-old had been given the jab under medical prescription and denying he had jumped the vaccine queue.
The vaccination campaign in France is currently open to those aged 75 and over, though medical professionals and people at risk due to medical conditions also qualify.
Sarkozy received the vaccine on the basis of a "medical prescription", said an aide who asked not to be identified by name.
The medical conditions that qualify under 75-year-olds to receive the vaccine at present are only the most serious, including cancer patients and transplant patients, although from next week people aged 50-64 with a condition such as diabetes will be eligible to get the injection from their GP.
The aide did not say why Sarkozy had been granted the prescription. The former president "like any citizen, has a right to a private life and medical confidentiality," the aide said.
Weekly magazine L'Express reported on Thursday that Sarkozy was vaccinated at a military hospital in January, prompting murmurings of discontent over how he had got the jab so fast.
There has been widespread criticism of the slow pace of the vaccine roll-out in France, with 1 million people now fully vaccinated and a further 2.4 million having received their first injection - trailing well behind many other countries.
L'Express said Sarkozy, known for his impatience, had been frustrated over the slow pace of the campaign.
France's Health Minister Olivier Véran, 40 - who qualifies for the jab as a doctor - received his vaccine on live TV earlier this month. He declined to comment when asked about Sarkozy on Thursday, pointing to medical confidentiality.
An investigation is underway into claims that the American Hospital of Paris offered the vaccine to its wealthy donors and board members ahead of medical staff.
Sarkozy, president from 2007 to 2012, has been mired in legal troubles since leaving office but remains a popular figure for many on the right.
On 1 March, a court will give its verdict in a corruption trial involving Sarkozy, who faces up to four years in jail if found guilty. He is also named in several other probes.
His latest memoir, The Time of Storms, topped best-seller lists for weeks in France last summer.
Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe