French winemakers want priority status for Covid-19 vaccinations

Tuesday March 16 2021 by Vitisphere

 “Testimonials by winemakers out on the ground all [showed that they] recovered completely after a few weeks. But this required rehabilitation and intense daily tasting exercises”, said Sophie Pallas. “Testimonials by winemakers out on the ground all [showed that they] recovered completely after a few weeks. But this required rehabilitation and intense daily tasting exercises”, said Sophie Pallas. - Photo credit : DR

Since Covid-19 upended the world a year ago, there are still many unknown aspects of the disease, but there is one certainty: “We now know that the olfactory system is affected by this particular coronavirus”, explained Dr. Pierre Bonfils, who heads the ENT department of the Georges European Hospital, during a video press conference of the French oenologists’ association on March 10. The issue can involve loss of smell (anosmia) and taste (ageusia), or a decrease in the quality of smell (hyposmia) and distorted olfactory perception (parosmia), “and for us as oenologists, or “wine musicians”, it is comparable to losing our musical instruments. The nose and mouth are essential organs in our profession”, warned Didier Fages, chair of the association (UŒF).

 

To avoid this debilitating disease, and once the most vulnerable have been vaccinated, “we are asking for priority vaccination for wine professionals as part of the national vaccination plan. We have written a letter to the Prime Minister, but unfortunately there has been no response”, added Fages. “My rationale is holistic and aims for our members not to catch the disease so that they can continue to work stress-free”, explained the winemaker.

 

The measures are based on an unprecedented assessment following a survey conducted from May to July 2020 in 37 countries among 2,625 wine professionals (52% of them winemakers). The most surprising takeaway from the study is that 13% of wine professionals had already experienced chronic smell disorders before 2020. Specifically regarding Covid-19, it emerged that 2% of all respondents had experienced an olfactory and/or gustatory disorder as a result of the disease. In 38% of Covid cases, the olfactory problems affected their working life either totally, partially, temporarily or permanently.

 

Testimonials by winemakers out on the ground all [showed that they] recovered completely after a few weeks. But this required rehabilitation and intense daily tasting exercises”, said UŒF director Sophie Pallas. She added: “Fortunately, these are occasional symptoms that can be reversed and open up new fields of awareness and knowledge. Most importantly, they reveal the need to talk about it to avoid isolation in this very negative psychological situation”.

 

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