Question asked by Vincent on January 19
You are asking us about the presence in the Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg, on Wednesday January 12, of Christian Perronne. Highly contested in France for having disseminated many untruths about the Covid-19 pandemic, the infectious disease specialist is the central character of the conspiratorial documentary “Hold on”. The professor was not the only French scientist to have appeared before the Luxembourg parliamentarians that day, since Alexandra Henrion-Caude, a geneticist who had become one of the scientific precautions of the “Covido- skeptical”, as well as Luc Montagnier, virologist who received the Nobel Prize in 2008 but has since been criticized by the scientific community for his positions, in particular anti-vaccines.
Antivax symbols acting as experts
Reason for their presence in the assembly: all three had been invited to present their positions on vaccination by two Luxembourg petitioners, whose texts were opposed, one to the introduction of compulsory vaccination and, the other immunization of children in their country, each reported 11,456 and 4,674 signatures. Or, under the Rules of the Chamber of Deputies of Luxembourg, any public request sent by a citizen who is at least fifteen years old, and who collects online “at least 4,500 signatures after 42 days”, should give rise to “a joint meeting of the Committee on Petitions and the parliamentary committee(s) will be organised, in the presence of the Minister(s) concerned by the subject of the petition”. After which the deputies meet behind closed doors to decide on any follow-up to be given to the debate.
The petitioners were therefore heard by the deputies who are members of the parliamentary committees for Petitions and Health, as well as by the Minister responsible for Health in the Grand Duchy. It is within this framework that they chose to surround themselves, to support their arguments, with French scientists. This right to invite external speakers, national or foreign, is not expressly provided for in the regulations of the Chamber of Deputies. But its president, Fernand Etgen, explains to CheckNews that he is agitated “of an accepted practice with the idea of allowing petitioners to surround themselves with experts on sometimes very technical issues”. Thus, up to five people can accompany the petitioner. Nevertheless, “Before the pandemic, people were never supervised by experts”, underlines the President of the Committee on Petitions with the Luxembourg daily Luxembourg must.
Invitations to speak during the discussion on the first petition “against mandatory Covid-19 vaccination for citizens”, Alexandra Henrion-Caude and Luc Montagnier repeated the elements of language that they have been reciting since the start of the vaccination campaign. For the geneticist, anti-Covid vaccines are products “still in clinical trials”, “in development”. As for Montagnier, who appears without a mask, he assured that these vaccines were “poisons” and no “real vaccines”. “We are seeing a big campaign to sell and tax preparations that kill a number of people,” a denounced the Nobel Prize for Medicine.
Christian Perronne spoke during the debate on the second petition, entitled “Stop gene therapy type vaccines (Covid-19) for our children”. In his reasons, the petitioner states that vaccines can modify human genes. In front of the deputies, Perronne insists on the uselessness in his eyes of vaccination campaigns, taking up Luc Montagnier’s argument that vaccination represents a danger: “Pharmacovigilance data show that there have already been 36,000 post-vaccination deaths reported in Europe and 25,000 in the United States, which is huge.
Many journalistic works, including those of CheckNews, demonstrated that the various arguments put forward by this trio are simply false or divert real data to deceive. In response to these proposals, several elected officials present expressed their disagreement. “MPs have repeatedly pointed out that the experts do not answer their questions, that they are off topic most of the time, that the House refuses the idea of being briefed by them”, assures the deputy Fernand Etgen, who chairs the Chamber. He regrets that these “so-called experts” come “with speeches prepared in advance” and that they were “almost exclusively mentioned the harmful effects of vaccination and not the real subject of the petition, namely the obligation to vaccinate”. As reported by Luxembourg must, the Minister of Health, Paulette Lenert, reacted strongly to the content of the debates: “You act like it’s a little flu. This is not the case.”
No guest checks
Thus, not only did their interventions not convince the Luxembourg parliamentarians, but they regretted that these scientists criticized in France by their peers were able to express themselves. As a reminder, former infectious disease specialist and recognized university professor, Christian Perronne was dismissed in December 2020 from his position as head of department at the Raymond-Poincaré hospital in Garches (Hauts-de-Seine) by the AP-HP, then continued in stride by the College of Physicians. In the group of personalities invited, like Perronne, to defend the second petition, there was also a Luxembourg general practitioner who is currently the subject of a ban on practicing.
Former director of research at Inserm, Alexandra Henrion-Caude left the institution at the beginning of 2018, before retiring in the summer of 2019. Since she emerged in the camp of opponents of health policy, the medical research institute has distanced itself from its former researcher and repeats that the latter speaks in her own name. Finally, a good part of the scientific community has dissociated itself from Luc Montagnier, who was for a long time an eminent doctor, known for having discovered the AIDS virus with his team. The teacher “accumulates scientific and medical impostures by dint of speaking out in areas where he is not competent”, wrote in 2012 about forty Nobel Prize winners in a petition. Subsequently, it was also disavowed by the National Academy of Medicine, and by the Pasteur Institute.
In view of the pedigree of these three scientists, the deputies from Luxembourg would no doubt have preferred to know in advance the composition of the panel implying the petitioners. But the choice of speakers is in no way up to the Chamber of Deputies, and there is no “no rules or validation” allowing to avoid problematic profiles, indicates to the log Luxembourg must the chair of the Petitions Committee, Nancy Arendt. Which emphasizes, however, that “in the last 18 debates [qu’elle a] concerned, there have never been any major problems.”
A revision of the rules to regulate external interventions
Perronne, Henrion-Caude and Montagnier “simply accompanied petitioners for a public petition debate, at the invitation of the petitioners and not of parliament”, would like to remind Fernand Etgen for his part. And to add that he “It was a debate on a public petition and not a debate in plenary session where we asked to invite such experts.”
The day after the debates on the vaccination obligation and the vaccination of children, the President of the Chamber of Deputies “immediately put on the agenda of the Conference of Presidents of the Chamber […] a revision of the rules”. Indeed, the presence of experts “can only be justified to give advice to petitioners, possibly to answer technical questions asked by deputies”, he judges. As a result, “it is excluded that the experts can monopolize the word, or make speeches.”
If the presence of the three French people revived it, this reflection is not new, indicates Fernand Etgen. This last report having, a few months ago, “sends a letter to the Petitions Committee asking to refine the rules in this area”. According to him, the preservation of this “in-depth democratic participatory tool” intended for “Give voice to citizens”.