France has considered medical supplies very important to national security and needs domestic production, but abandoned this perspective before Covid-19 came.
When President Emmanuel Macron declared war on Covid-19 in March, he committed France that would protect physicians, the “soldiers” on the anti-epidemic head line, and give them “weapons, armor” to cope with invisible enemies.
But in fact, French physicians fall in the context of almost “iron-like hands” so they can protect themselves. The National Mask Reserve is almost exhausted, while too much dependence and factories overseas make France unable to strengthen the capacity of local production of medical protection items, laboratory kit, ventilator, thermometer, or antipyretic drugs for the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
Even now, when the FA begins to secure the blockade, they do not guarantee sufficient supply in the coming weeks to cope if the wave of second infection is coming.
France has long determined that the mask is an indispensable item if the epidemic occurs, But the government almost Stop storing them throughout the last decade, mainly for budget reasons. They also do not focus on domestic production and the majority of the country’s pharmaceutical industry put chains overseas.
France decides not to maintain large stockpiles in the country, as the factories can produce very quickly, especially in China, the Minister of Health Olivier Véran said in the National Assembly in March.
However, the scale and speed of nCoV’s spread has revealed that this is only an illusion. When recovering from the epidemic, China, the world’s leading exporter, “awash the head” of the orders. India, the country’s leading drug exporter, prohibits export for fear of domestic deficiency.
As global supply chains are interrupted, both the central government and the French local governments seek to buy supplies directly from China and elsewhere. The government left the aircraft to China for cargo, indicating a desperate situation and dependence on goods produced overseas.
France recorded nearly 180,000 infections, of which more than 28,000 people die, one of the highest mortality rates in the world, 60% higher than the US. For many experts, France’s situation is the consequence of moving offshore production facilities – the process of capital has deepening inequality and promoting violent protests, such as the Golden Shirt movement.
In the early 2000, Germany had only slightly more advantages over France in the manufacture and export of PCR test Kit, which is the most widely used today for nCoV detection, and breathing aids. But by the year 2018, Germany had a trade surplus of US $1.4 billion with PCR test kit, while France had a deficit of 89 million.
While Germany can rapidly mobilize its industry to fight the epidemic, France is paralyzed. They are unable to perform large-scale tests because of the lack of sample and chemical sampling rods, which are low-value but very important to be machining in Asia.
“France has had too much industrias since the years 2000. Now they pay the price “, Philippe Aghion, economist teaching at Harvard University, said.
In an unpublished study, Aghion and other economist at the Brussels Free University found that countries capable of producing their own test kit and related instruments such as Germany and Austria noted fewer deaths.
In France, even basic commodities are deficient. Pharmacies run out of thermometers. The supply of paracetamol, the common painkillers that are low to the level of government must limit sale.
The last factory producing paracetamol in Europe was in France, near the city of Lyon, but it closed in 2008, according to the French National Pharmaceutical Institute. The institute has long warned of growing dependence on drug manufacturers of foreign countries, insisting that 60-80% of pharmaceutical active substances in Europe are imports, compared to 20% three decades ago.
“The government does nothing to stop this trend,” said expert Marie-Christine Belleville from the French National Pharmaceutical Institute, says.
In fact, the warnings have been launched over the years. After SARS in Asia, 2003, French officials analyzed the risk and decided to build the national stockpiles and other locally-produced supplies, followed by the tradition of the mighty defense industry from World War II, which helped France to export the Rafale, Submarine, minesweeper and destroyers to the world.
Year 2006, The French government provided a plan for the defense of the epidemic, which proposed a series of measures, including the creation of a stockpiles. A year earlier, the Ministry of Health of France signed a 5-year contract to buy 180 million of the site, Bacou-Dalloz, then the largest exporter in France, manufactured at the Plaintel factory, about 450 km from Paris.
NYTimes Obtain a copy of the contract, indicating the strategic thinking of the French government at the time: ensuring that a supplier in the country will help France to avoid being fully dependent on the source of risk of interruption in the epidemic.
In accordance with the contract, the French government will replace the expiration page number in the reserve. If the epidemic occurs, the government can use the factory’s production line. The government is “an exclusive customer that covers the entire product of the factory in Plaintel”, the former director of Jean-Jacques Fuan said factory.
In 2008, the French government published the whitepaper, which first regarded the epidemic as a potential national threat, ranking fourth after terrorism, cyber warfare, and ballistic missile strikes. “In the next 15 years, the epidemic can occur”, warning whitepaper. “It can be very contagious, lethal, and may appear to be a batch for weeks or months”.
But soon after, many politicians criticize the policy of retreating the site and the drug is wasted. Approximately 383 million were spent in the year 2009 to buy 44 million H1N1 influenza injections that caused political scandal when less than 9% of the French were vaccinated.
In 2013, France launched new directive, emphasizing saving and reducing the importance of stockpiles. The surgical site is reserved, while FFP2, which has better protection but is expensive to 10 times, is not.
The Government also transfers responsibilities with the cost of buying and storing the site for public and private units. This contributes to the serious shortage that France suffered in recent months, because government officials were less involved in the issue.
The new policy also weakens the ability to produce French exports. When having to manually reserve the site, the hospital will naturally look for cheaper suppliers overseas. To save costs, the government puts large orders that only Chinese factories can meet, former senator Francis Delattre said.
“Small French factories take orders,” Delattre said. “It is dangerous to only entrust the responsibility of protecting the country’s health to one or two Chinese corporations.”
Losing his only client is the government, the factory of the export site in Plaintel, where it was operated 24 hours a day, must be narrowed up and eventually closed in 2018.
When the expiration of the page was removed, the French national restock reserve dropped from 1.7 billion in 2009 to 150 million in March. And when the “invisible enemy” raging across France, the country that produces the world’s leading modern-earth gases cannot make up enough of their own.
“This crisis causes us to regard health as the strategic field, should be noted just like defense,” Arnaud Danjean, European legislature, said. “We are not ‘ armed ‘ fully to resist it.”
Phuong VU (According to NYTimes)