Professor Pierre-Edouard Fournier, successor to Didier Raoult at the head of the Mediterranean University Hospital Institute (IHUm) will be discreetly received on Friday October 7 by the Ministers of Health and Higher Education and Research. It is as discreet as its already was thunderous. The archives of radios or televisions keep no trace of his voice, while they are full of that of the “Professor of hydroxy-chloroquine”.
In a video posted by the IHUm in February 2020, Professor Raoult explainse Chinese researchers have released the first study on chloroquine: “It is effective on coronaviruses with 500 milligrams of chloroquine per day, for 10 days. It’s probably the easiest respiratory infection to treat.”, he assures a hilarious audience. Then he continues: “So it’s not worth getting excited about putting vaccines in ten years. You have to work, see the molecules that are potentially active and that are immediately available on the market. The only one that I’m telling you is: be careful , there will soon be no more chloroquine in pharmacies”. We know the rest: indignation of peers, confusion among politicians… and recently a report from the General Inspectorate of Social Affairs (Igas) and legal proceedings.
Our intruder, Pierre-Edouard Fournier, the successor, is silent. Not a word when he was appointed in June, nor when he took office on September 1, nor after the damning report from Igas. He only issued a press release. Even in the past: nothing can be found in the archives of radio or television stations. It takes all the perseverance of the France Bleu Provence teams to finally exhume 8 seconds of interview broadcast in 2014, during a report on nosocomial infections.“They affect between 5 and 10% of patients admitted to the French health system”, he explains in this short extract.
And even cartoonish. The very few who dare to talk about it Graceful Pierre-Edouard Fournier as a “mister no wave”, a “mister no one”. To believe that he was chosen for that. Average height, graying brown hair, small beards and goatee of the same color, always covered with his white coat, even when he teaches at the medical school. A college where his son is a student, following in his father’s footsteps. It’s a “polite man”, even underline its detractors. A man “who doesn’t yell at people, him…” That says everything.
A microbiologist who has seen it several times at congresses describes this sinfectious disease specialist “extremely brilliant”. At the IHU, his forever home, the researcher launched the large-scale PCR test at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. He happened to distance himself from Didier Raoult, in particular on hydroxychloroquine. But Pierre-Edouard Fournier is perceived as the “student” of Professor Raoult. This last directed his thesis on bacteria linked to typhus in 1999. We can even speak of a mentor.
Officially, the choice of Pierre-Edouard Fournier aims to ensure continuity in the operation of the Mediterranean University Hospital Institute. But Didier Raoult’s reaction on July 13, the day of the official announcement, may provide part of the answer. He tweeted: “Checkmate !”
— Didier Raoult (@raoult_didier) July 13, 2022
The final choice was made between Pierre-Edouard Fournier, “the disciple” of Didier Raoult, and Renaud Piarroux, epidemiologist at Pitié-Salpétrière in Paris and originally from Marseille. Two possibilities: continuity and therefore the possibility for Didier Raoult to keep one foot at the IHUm or change and the door closed to the former boss. “Will Pierre-Edouard Fournier obey the Public Assistance – Hospitals of Marseille (AP-HM) which pushed Professor Raoult towards the exit?” asks a researcher who wishes to remain anonymous. The CGT doubts it and speaks of masquerade. François Crémieux, the director of the AP-HM in any case supported this name, proposed by Louis Schweitzer. The ex-CEO of Renault chaired the selection committee. Among the other directors, only one voted against the nomination of Pierre-Edouard Fournier. The others abstained.
After the publication of the Igas report in September, it was sent to Agence France Presse. He announces suspend ongoing clinical trials “relating to research involving the human person (RIPH), pending the regularization of the situation“. He explains, very politically, that the first meetings with Marseille hospitals “made it possible to lay the foundations for constructive and peaceful relations“. And said to himself”happy“to meet soon with the Ministers of Health and Research to present to them his “ambitious action plan” and put “en implements the recommendations“. That’s good, he has an appointment with François Braun and Sylvie Retailleau.