Government, Covid, Paris City Hall… Agnès Buzyn settles her accounts

It’s D-day for Agnès Buzyn

Government, Covid, Paris City Hall… Agnès Buzyn settles her accounts

It’s D-day for Agnès Buzyn. The day she delivers the truth, the whole truth... her truth. On the beginnings of the Covid-19 crisis, on his departure from the government, but also on his electoral campaign for Paris City Hall. The former minister confided to AFP this Wednesday, September 27, her “immense regret,” before the publication of her Journal (Flammarion): her hasty departure from the Ministry of Health to save the catastrophic campaign of the presidential camp in Paris. A departure which, moreover, was not followed by the hoped-for result.

“It took me time to put the initial trauma at bay and be able to do real work of reflection on what happened to us collectively,” explains the former president of the High Authority of Health, one of the symbols of “ civil society” in the first Macron government in 2017.

This “crazy story”, which saw France wall itself off in unprecedented confinement, Agnès Buzyn experienced it “doubly”. Firstly, by trying to alert people to the seriousness of the pandemic, without “managing to convince”. Then leaving, in a “moment of extreme doubt”, the government, replaced by Olivier Véran a month before confinement. The doctor minister then turns into the “good soldier” of a Parisian municipal campaign in distress, the candidate Benjamin Griveaux being out of the race after the broadcast of a video of a sexual nature.

The “pressure” was great on the shoulders of the woman who had already declined the 2019 European election campaign. “We make you understand that you have incredible luck. They tell me: 'We gave you your chance, we made you minister,'” she explains.

“It’s all the ambiguity of being a minister of civil society: you are chosen for your expertise, for your skills, and you are asked to behave like a pure politician,” believes Agnès Buzyn. Until the “trauma”: “having become public enemy number 1 in France” after having denounced in the press the “masquerade” of these elections and revealed having warned, in January 2020, the executive of the risks of spreading Covid , without being heard.

The first round of municipal elections took place on March 15 in a surreal atmosphere, tinged with strong abstention. Two days later, France entered lockdown, and the ballot boxes were suspended until June. Upon arrival, Agnès Buzyn will not even be elected councilor of Paris.

The Court of Justice of the Republic indicted her due to her management of the pandemic. Then the Court of Cassation annulled this decision in January 2023. The former minister was placed under the status of assisted witness in an investigation for “voluntary abstention from fighting a disaster”. The CJR is also conducting an investigation concerning Olivier Véran and Édouard Philippe.

In this book, Agnès Buzyn tells how, on December 25, 2019, from Corsica where she was spending her vacation, she began to become interested in a mysterious virus that had just appeared in China. Throughout January 2020, while her agenda exploded – bioethics law, already highly contested pension reform, hospital practitioners' strike – the minister worried about this virus then began to sound the alarm and prepare her ministry. Even describing the “tsunami” that awaits the country during a telephone conversation with Emmanuel Macron, from the staircase of a cinema.

She insists on the absence of a health advisor to the head of state at the start of the crisis, criticizing the scientific council established by the Élysée and chaired by Jean-François Delfraissy. An “organizational error” because the body “mixed social acceptability and scientific facts”, “as if the IPCC integrated the societal acceptability of the fight against global warming”.

Agnès Buzyn also describes the “lack of support” from the majority in the face of the attacks she suffered. The future ? “I would like to go where I can be useful. It seems to me that I have acquired a certain amount of professional experience and that it can still be useful to the collective. Or ? I don’t know,” explains the former minister, who joined the Court of Auditors in July 2022.