Wednesday

22nd Sep 2021

Fake corona-passes on sale in France, amid talk of third jabs

  • WHO experts say there was not enough scientific evidence that Covid-29 booster shots are needed (Photo: European Commission)

People refusing to get vaccinated are paying hundreds of euros for fake Covid-19 health passes on the online black market in France, ever since passes became mandatory in cafes, restaurants, trains, cinemas, and museums since July.

There has been an increase in fraudulent health passes on offer on Snapchat, a social network app, AFP reported, as French president Emmanuel Macron said he hoped the requirement for passes will compel more people to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

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The French news agency reported that Snapchat accounts openly advertise the counterfeit documents, which can cost up to €400. The vaccine is free in France.

Some ads clearly state: "Say no to the vaccine and get a health pass without getting vaccinated".

The fake French passes are also being advertised on Facebook, AFP said. Users need to send their data, including a French health-system number, to get the false document.

Some health care workers are also complicit in the operations, AFP reported.

The counterfeiters face prison sentences up to five years and fines of up to €150,000. Those who use fake health passes could spend three years behind bars.

Getting the vaccine has not been mandatory in EU countries, but measures have been take to boost the rate of vaccination.

According to surveys, the majority in French people support the requirement for passes, but tens of thousands of opponents have also been holding anti-pass demonstrations for weeks.

On Wednesday, Pope Francis also spoke in favour of getting vaccinated.

"Being vaccinated ... is an act of love," the 84-year old pope said in a video message, adding that "contributing to ensure the majority of people are vaccinated is an act of love. Love for oneself, love for one's family and friends, love for all people".

In the EU - plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway - 64 percent of the adults have been vaccinated with two doses, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

In Belgium, Sciensano health institute data showed that of the 6.2 million people were fully vaccinated in Belgium, barely 0.2 percent have contracted the virus, or around 12,000 people, with only half of them showing symptoms.

Only 2 percent of hospitalisations recorded since the start of the year in Belgium concerned fully vaccinated people, just over 400 people.

Infection rates have been steady in the EU overall, but in a few countries data shows some increase.

In Belgium, for instance, during the last six days hospitals recorded an average of 60 admissions per day of patients suffering from Covid-19. This is an increase of 24 percent compared to the previous period.

In Germany on Monday the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 2,126 new Covid-19 infections within 24 hours, compared to a week ago when the number of cases identified within a 24-hour period was 1,183.

The number of infections per 100,000 people within seven days also rose.

Germany is rolling out its own health pass scheme: from 23 August at the latest, regions with high infection rates will require a health pass to access most indoor public spaces, restaurants, cinemas, and events.

Third shot?

While more and more EU governments consider offering a third dose to citizens, the World Health Organisation condemned Wednesday the rush by wealthy countries to provide Covid-19 vaccine booster shots, while millions around the world have yet to receive a single dose.

WHO experts insisted there was not enough scientific evidence that boosters were needed and that they were unethical.

"We're planning to hand out extra life jackets to people who already have life jackets, while we're leaving other people to drown without a single life jacket," the WHO's emergency director Mike Ryan told reporters, speaking from the UN agency's Geneva headquarters.

Europe sees drop in Covid-19 cases

Europe has reported a decrease in weekly infections of Covid-19 - after more than a month of increases in cases driven by the more-contagious Delta variant.

Commission to approve first Covid-recovery plans next week

This means that, following council approval, and after the financing agreement has been signed with EU governments, the first countries can receive pre-financing from the recovery fund, of up to 13 percent of their allocated funds.

Analysis

The EU's Covid-19 certificate - how it will work?

As some member states start issuing the EU's Covid-19 certificate, EUobserver takes a look at what the bloc is doing to restore unrestricted travel in the bloc - a right that has been restricted, even prohibited, during the pandemic.

Von der Leyen doubles up on vaccine-donation pledge

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen praised the EU's vaccination roll-out as a success and announced that the EUn will donate 200 million additional doses to low-income countries - doubling its current pledge.

EU medicines agency: booster shots not urgent

The European Medicines Agency said that there is no urgent need to administer booster shots to the general population, pointing out that the priority now should be to vaccinate the one-third of Europeans who are not fully vaccinated.

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