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French wine experts ask to be prioritised for COVID vaccine

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A wine storekeeper pours red wine in a glass during a presentation in a wine shop in Paris, Thursday Nov. 20, 2014
A wine storekeeper pours red wine in a glass during a presentation in a wine shop in Paris, Thursday Nov. 20, 2014   -   Copyright  Francois Mori/AP Photo
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French wine professionals would like to be prioritised for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Wine experts are "particularly impacted" in their profession by the loss of taste or smell caused by COVID-19, the country's Oenologists' Union said in a press release.

It comes as French officials say they will work to accelerate vaccinations, which were off to a slow start in the country. In particular, teachers will be able to get the vaccine from April.

"Health, education and frontline workers deserve to be priority for vaccination but we think that tasting professionals, especially oenologists and sommeliers are particularly impacted in their professional activity by anosmia (loss of smell) and ageusia (loss of taste)," said Didier Fages, president of the wine professionals union.

He said that COVID-19 could cause those who study wine to no longer be able "to exercise their profession."

"Vaccination is the only possible preventive action," he said, asking for "special attention" to people in these professions.

The union said that their 2020 study of 2,625 wine professionals in 37 countries showed that nearly 38% of wine professionals who lost their taste or smell due to COVID-19 were unable to continue their profession.

Among professionals infected with COVID-19 (2.7% of those surveyed), 68% had lost their sense of smell and 56% suffered from taste disturbances.

So far, around 6.5 million people have received a first dose of the vaccine in France, which amounts to 9.8% of the total population.