Covid19: "The epidemic curve is exponential in France, it looks like a new wave"observed a

Covid19: "The epidemic curve is exponential in France, it looks like a new wave"observed a

Is France on the verge of a new coronavirus wave? This is the concern of Antoine Flahault, epidemiologist and director of the Institute for Global Health at the University of Geneva Medical School, who drew attention this Wednesday to the epidemic backlash linked to BA.4 and BA subvariant 5 from Portugal. “The epidemic curve is exponential in France,” he warns, while in Portugal “mortality has been very high in recent weeks”, especially “among people over 80 years old”.

Antoine Flahault calls for vigilance because “what happens in Portugal could happen here with a few weeks delay”:

Can we speak of an epidemic recovery in France?

Yes. We are currently seeing a very clear recovery in almost all Western European countries. Especially in France. The epidemic curve is exponential in France, it looks like a new wave that seems to be led by these new Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants. The wave will affect all regions of metropolitan France. And when we talk about the overseas territories, there is a somewhat special case, namely Martinique. It is the French region that today has the highest incidence and also the high mortality rate. It’s probably related to another Omicron subvariant. A North American subvariant named BA2.12.1. Omicron is a big family…

Are we sufficiently protected by vaccinations in France today?

It all depends on what we call “we”, which means that people who have a full regimen are very well protected from severe forms. You are unfortunately not protected from having the Covid because it is no longer the exact same strain. But mortality has been very high in Portugal in recent weeks with this BA.5 wave.

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This subvariant is not much more violent than the others, but 93% of observed deaths occurred in people over the age of 80. People over 80 are therefore also at a very high risk of dying from this variant this summer. You have to be extremely careful in nursing homes, extremely careful with the elderly. We need to be extra vigilant in the coming weeks and months. The risk of dying from it is significant, the risk of being hospitalized and having a complicated form is significant.

Do you have any idea of ​​the epidemic peak date or is it still too much?

It’s too early. The forecast that we are making in Geneva with the Ecole polytechnique of Lausanne and Zurich covers seven days. But I can say that South Africa finished this wave in eight weeks, it was the shortest of their waves. Portugal is six weeks away and seems to have peaked. So Portugal risks having it for nine or ten weeks. If we extrapolate the Portuguese situation to France, we’ll have it for a good part of the summer. We cannot foresee, we cannot predict, but we can anticipate. We can say that what is happening in Portugal could happen here with a few weeks delay. We remember Lombardy, Italy and didn’t want to believe it. We didn’t think any of this was going to happen to us and then it happened. So yes, we can foresee because the deaths we are talking about are deaths that are largely preventable. If we test early, if we prescribe effective antiviral treatments in the first few days of infection, we can really save lives. This has been proven in clinical trials, we need to use these therapeutic advances in real life.

We had talked about a less heat-resistant virus. Is not that the case?

Respiratory viruses are generally less transmissible when you are outdoors. At least 95%, maybe 99% of contaminations take place in closed, poorly ventilated environments where there are many people. In the summer it’s often the other way around, we’re outside more often. But right now with the heat wave people are being told to close the windows, in nursing homes we try not to bring the hot air in from the outside. So, in the summer, there is finally a risk of spreading this virus. As we have seen, Australia and New Zealand experienced a big wave in the middle of summer. Portugal has been experiencing very mild weather conditions since early May.