Jan 4, 2022 - World

Macron on unvaccinated people: "I really want to piss them off"

Emmanuel Macron at an EU leaders summit. Photo: Valeria Mongelli/Bloomberg via Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that he wants to “piss off” unvaccinated people as part of his strategy to fight COVID-19.

What he’s saying: Speaking to Le Parisien, a French newspaper, Macron said policies that ban unvaccinated people from cafes and theaters and otherwise limit their social activities are intended to be frustrating, adding: "I really want to piss them off. And so we will continue to do so, to the bitter end. That's the strategy."

The backstory: Macron said he won't jail unvaccinated people or "forcibly" vaccinate them, so COVID passports are the best path forward.

Flashback: His announcement of a COVID passport scheme last July was met with angry protests, but also a major uptick in vaccinations as people didn't want to lose access to bars and restaurants.

  • While France had among Europe's highest rates of vaccine hesitancy early in the pandemic, 74% of the population is now fully vaccinated compared to 62% in the U.S. and 68% across the European Union.
  • France is currently seeing a massive spike in cases thanks to the Omicron variant, but unvaccinated people continue to be far more likely to end up in the hospital.

Between the lines: Macron is also in campaign mode ahead of April's presidential election, and clearly sees the vaccine passport as a winning issue.

  • Far-right challenger Marine Le Pen quickly accused him of seeking to divide people and "make the non-vaccinated second-class citizens."
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