France’s vaccine pass will remain in place until hospitals are able to function normally without cancelling non-emergency procedures to make room for Covid-19 patients, Health Minister Olivier Véran said on Wednesday, announcing new rules easing access to the pass.

The government says the vaccine pass helps curb the spread of the coronavirus and has spurred more people to get vaccinated against Covid-19, in order to alleviate pressure on hospitals.

Critics counter that the pass impinges on civil liberties and some have taken to the streets in protest.

“When we have emptied intensive care units, or at least (…) when there is no further cancellation of procedures and if no new variant is in circulation, then the utility of the vaccine pass will be debatable,” the minister told BFM TV.

France was still a way off that point, with 3,700 Covid-19 patients in intensive care, Véran said, suggesting that number would need to come down to around 1,000 before the vaccine pass rules could be removed.

Barring the emergence of dangerous new variants, that threshold could be reached by the summer, Véran said, adding: “The vaccine pass will come to an end, and judging by current trends, it is likely that the end will come before the month of July.”

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Of course, the above still implies unfounded belief in the effectiveness of these rushed experimental substances that have hugely benefited executives and investors in Big Pharma, and no-one else, but it’s still signals that an end to the madness isn’t too far away in Europe. —Eds