In just over a month, broadcasts have accelerated and new cases of Covid now affect 1.1% of the French population.
And seven. The new wave of Covid-19 – the seventh therefore in France – has become indisputable. Blame it on the BA.5 variant, whose inexorable progression towards its predecessor BA.2 benefits from both an immune leak (immunity acquired from vaccination or a previous infection is only partially effective) and greater contagiousness.
This seventh wave began in late May in France, in the wake of South Africa and Portugal. In just over a month, broadcasts have accelerated to the point that new Covid cases now affect 1.1% of the French population. Young adults are particularly affected, with an incidence of 1,500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants between the ages of 20 and 39, approximately double that of those over 80. The under 19s are spared more (400 cases per 100,000 inhabitants between 0-9 years, 600 between 10-19), but it can be imagined that they are even less shielded than the elderly. More generally, “the number of cases is probably underestimated due to a certain tiredness with the declaration of the various actors”estimated the Covid-19 Scientific Council in an opinion published on 23 June.
Around us, the upward momentum is shared by our main European neighbors: Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK are seeing their incidence increase… But it is still France that shows the strongest epidemic growth. According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), eighteen of the thirty-three European countries monitored have seen an increase in their hospitalizations and / or ICU admissions for Covid in the past two weeks. Only Portugal, because it was hit among the first, is already seeing the wave go away.
“Fragility of human resources in the hospital”
However, experts have noticed for a few days in France the first signs of a slowdown in the appearance of new cases. Can we infer that we are approaching the peak of this seventh wave? It is difficult to conclude in the absence of scientific models that satisfactorily reflect an increasingly complex reality, with a population largely immunized but in a highly variable manner (vaccination and / or infection, Delta, Omicron or Alpha strains, etc.). “What we can say is that in the absence of a prevention policy, the new BA.5 wave will cause at least millions of infections, thousands of hospitalizations, hundreds of deaths and an unspecified number of long Covids”summarizes Samuel Alizon, research director at CNRS and a member of the Infectious Disease Modeling Team in Montpellier.
The only screenings available are those of Simon Cauchemez, head of the modeling teams of the Institut Pasteur. Continuing up to 18 July, they foresee around 1,700 daily hospital admissions in this horizon, compared to a thousand at the moment. In intensive care, hospitalizations would thus rise to about 160 per day, where there are currently about 100.
A perspective that hospitals welcome in a mixed way. “We are both calm and worriedexplains Fr.r Djillali Annane, head of the intensive care unit of the Raymond-Poincaré hospital in Garches (AP-HP), president of the Union of intensive care doctors. Peace of mind, because we now know how to take care of these patients: we have a therapeutic arsenal and know-how, and Covid no longer catches us off guard. But we are also concerned about the fragility of our human resources in the hospital. Six out of fifteen beds in my service are closed due to lack of staff. If the wave gets too high, we will be overwhelmed because we won’t be enough of us, with no room for maneuver. Not to mention, our exhausted teams need to take a break like everyone else, when they don’t get sick on their own. For the pr Annane, it’s not too late to break the wave, “Returning to the obligation to wear a mask in transport and in shared work spaces. It’s not that restrictive and we know it’s effective “.
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