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Buzyn claims to have always been in anticipation

PARIS ( – Former health minister Agnès Buzyn, who was heard on Tuesday by a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the coronavirus crisis, defended her management of the file and underlined the speed of her reaction, saying that she had always been “in anticipation”.

She also said that when she left the Ministry of Health on February 16, she felt she had done her “preparatory work”.

“I believe that I have done my preparatory work at the Ministry of Health. The whole system is being prepared and under stress,” she told deputies. “I leave the ministry with the feeling that I have prepared.”

Agnes Buzyn was Minister of Health until February 16, when she replaced Benjamin Griveaux at the top of the list of La République en Marche for the municipal elections in Paris.

In an interview with on March 16, the day after the first round of the municipal elections, she had aroused the emotion by saying that she regretted the “masquerade” of the municipal elections and expressed the doubts that had assailed her when she threw herself into the battle of Paris.

“When I left the ministry, I was crying because I knew the tsunami wave was before us. I left knowing that the elections would not take place,” she said in the interview.

Tuesday, in front of the deputies, Agnès Buzyn also defended the reaction of her services to the emergence of the risk posed by the appearance of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

“I had my first totally accidental alert during my Christmas vacation around December 25 on an English blog reporting cases of unexplained pneumonia,” she testified before the investigation commission of the National Assembly.

“My first level of alert is around January 11 because China is announcing the first death. I then decide to inform the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister that there is a local phenomenon in China.”

“My awareness evolves on January 22, because the WHO says there is human-to-human transmission, and that’s where we understand that it’s not a local phenomenon.”

The minister stressed that she had organized a press conference on January 21, even before the official confirmation of this human-to-human transmission.

“I think I am the only European health minister to have made the decision to hold a press conference so early,” she said.



Rejecting the charges of lack of preparation, Agnès Buzyn said that she had decided to inform the French every day about the evolution of the epidemic, either by the Director General of Health, Jérôme Salomon, or by herself .

When the alert level went up a notch on January 24 with the first cases of contamination reported in France, she said that she phoned the European Health Commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, to ask her to urgently organize a meeting of the Ministers of Health of the EU countries.

“I ask that I be given the number of resuscitation beds, the number of respirators and that I be given all the capacities to take care of stocks, masks and equipment. I ask that Public health France makes me three possible scenarios of evolution of the epidemic, she declared.

Asked about the stock of masks, she ensures that an order was placed on January 30.

“I set in motion the whole system on January 25 when the WHO refused to declare on January 22 and 23 the public health emergency of international scope (…) So I have already set up, questioned establishments, ARS (regional health agency) and researchers five days before the declaration of emergency of international scope by the WHO, “she defended herself.

“We have not stopped acting since January 10, when we learned that it is a coronavirus,” she insisted, adding that we cannot ” to accuse of not having been reactive.

Agnes Buzyn also defended her services.

“It is wrong to say that my intuition was not followed by my services,” she said, saying that throughout the early days of the health crisis, “we are always ahead of decisions international “.

“In no case can I say that the Ministry of Health has been slow,” she insisted. “You cannot say that I did not anticipate and I will not let it be said that the services did not anticipate.”

The ex-minister reaffirmed in passing his “full confidence” in Jérôme Salomon, the director general of health whom she chose, she says, “for her experience in public health, in infectiology and because he had managed several health crises including avian flu at the office of (Bernard) Kouchner and Ebola at the office of Marisol Touraine “.

“It is for this experience that I asked him to join me at the general management of health and therefore I fully trust him and I fully assume the decisions he makes.”

(Claude Chendjou, edited by Henri-Pierre André)