Covid-19 honours

Computer wizz awarded French order of merit for Covid tracking apps

Guillaume Rozier, creator of the hugely popular Covidtracker.fr site.
Guillaume Rozier, creator of the hugely popular Covidtracker.fr site. JOEL SAGET AFP/File

Guillaume Rozier, the 25-year-old engineer who became famous for creating free anti-Covid online services, has been awarded France's National Order of Merit for his work in an "exceptional capacity".

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Rozier is the youngest of just over 1,000 people to be knighted this year in the honours list which was published in the Journal Officiel on Saturday.

In a statement, the Grand Chancellery of the Legion of Honour, which oversees the two decorations, said Rozier was "knighted exceptionally (without waiting for the required length of service) as allowed by the code of the National Order of Merit for clearly characterised exceptional services".

Speaking on BFM TV, Rozier said: "It is a great pleasure, a great honour to receive it," dedicating the award to the volunteers who work alongside him.

"It represents weeks of work, many hours sacrificed – and sacrificed with pleasure – in order to help the French better understand the epidemic thanks to Covidtracker and Vitemadose, which also allowed many people to find vaccines faster," he added.

Created in 1963 by General de Gaulle, the National Order of Merit is the second national order after the Legion of Honour. It has three grades: knight, officer, commander, and two dignities: grand officer and grand cross.

With some exceptions, including Guillaume Rozier, ten years of "merits acquired either in a public, civil or military function, or in the exercise of a private activity" are necessary to be awarded the National Order of Merit, at the proposal of the government.

Praised by Macron

Rozier started working on the pandemic in March 2020, while finishing his engineering studies in Nancy, with a specialisation in artificial intelligence and big data processing.

Based on public data, he produced graphs on the evolution of the pandemic, publishing them via his Twitter account, making it easier for the general public to understand.

Shared by Internet users and constantly improved, his website, that would soon be called Covidtracker, became a reference for information on the progress of the epidemic in France.

Rozier then created Vaccintracker, which tracks the progress of vaccinations, and then Vitemadose.

Launched at the beginning of April 2021, the website and application allows people to see at a glance the slots available on various French appointment platforms, such as Doctolib, Keldoc, Maiia, Ordoclic or MaPharma.

In announcing the expansion of the vaccination campaign a few weeks ago, President Emmanuel Macron himself welcomed Vitemadose.

Highlighting state failures

However, the success of Rozier's private creations has led many observers to draw a cruel conclusion for the public authorities: that of the state's inability to produce effective and simple services for the general public.

Rozier nevertheless praised the French government for having opened up data on the epidemic to everyone, which enabled him to develop its services.

He encouraged the administration to continue in this direction.

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