March 23, 2023

New wave of Covid-19: the government relies on the vaccine booster and teleworking

The government is slightly strengthening the protocol in force at primary school, where the number of cases is exploding.

In the opinion of experts, the epidemic peaks in this pandemic always take place fifteen days after the implementation of effective measures. Will those announced by the Prime Minister on Monday evening at the end of the Health Defense Council be enough to stem the new surge in Covid-19 cases? Jean Castex advocated the “vigilance” without “Give in to panic”. Little change at school therefore, while the incidence rate explodes among 6-10 year olds, who are not vaccinated and more often tested (more than 900 cases per 100,000 inhabitants).

The government did not choose the early vacation option as was decided in Belgium, but rather a move to level 3 of the health protocol for primary schools. It involves wearing a mask outdoors, limiting mixing in the canteen and reduced physical activity indoors. However, nothing has been announced on the ventilation of the classes, while the widespread installation of CO sensors would make it possible to observe whether the ventilation is sufficient to limit the transmission of the disease …

As for the vaccination of children aged 5 to 11, the government plans to open it to all “On a voluntary basis, if possible by the end of the year” said Jean Castex. He is still awaiting the opinions of the High Authority for Health and the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE).

More broadly, the executive calls on everyone to be responsible “In the private sphere” but above all wants to focus on teleworking, “The target being two to three days a week”. If the protocol remains unchanged for bars and restaurants, health pass controls will be strengthened and nightclubs closed one month from Friday.

The element that we had not necessarily anticipated is the rapid decline in the effectiveness of vaccines

Pascal Crépey, epidemiologist at the Rennes School of Public Health Studies

The fifth wave hits France head-on; no region or generation is spared, recalled the Prime Minister: the average number of new daily cases increases by more than 50% over seven days and the national incidence rate, above 430 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, exceeds already the peaks of the last two waves.

The hospital, already wrung out by four first waves, lists more than 12,000 Covid-19 patients, including nearly 2,200 in critical care where new daily admissions increase by 44% in one week. “We could be at 3000 (people in critical care) in mid-December “, had warned the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, last week, adding “That beyond 3000, it will be necessary to think of deprogramming”.

How did we get here? “With the arrival of the Delta variant and the wave of last summer, it was a safe bet that there would be a restart in the fall, favored by climatic factors. With a Delta variant much more contagious than Alpha, we suspected that vaccination alone would not prevent this fall wave., notes Pascal Crépey, epidemiologist at the Rennes School of Public Health Studies. The element that we had not necessarily anticipated was the rapid decline in the effectiveness of vaccines, which reduced the protection against infection from 90% to 50% after six months. ” And if the vaccines are still very effective against severe forms of the disease, “We keep a proportionality relationship between the number of cases and the number of hospitalized patients, recalls Pascal Crépey. So if the curve of the number of cases is exponential, that of hospitalizations will end up being too, even if it remains lower than it could have been. “ Not to mention that some 6 million adults are still not vaccinated.

To stem the tide, the authorities are betting above all on the booster dose, which more than 10 million French people have already received: more than 340,000 injections are carried out every day, which is encouraging, but not enough: according to recent models of the Institut Pasteur, the peak in hospitalizations, scheduled for early 2022, would be reduced by 44% with 400,000 injections each day. The latest data from the Directorate of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (DREES) confirm in any case that “The booster injection for people over 60 years of age whose complete status dates back more than 6 months improves vaccine protection by more than 90%, for symptomatic infections as well as for hospitalizations” ; and its effectiveness occurs from the first days after injection.

If we look at the population admitted to hospital on November 25, according to Public Health France, nearly 50% of patients aged 65 and over were unvaccinated, against only 1.4% for those vaccinated with a booster (which represented at this date more than 40% of the population of this age group).

The objective is therefore to vaccinate as many people as possible before the holidays… To achieve this, Jean Castex announced that those over 65 can be vaccinated without an appointment in any center. “Several hundred thousand meeting slots are open every day (…) and we have opened 200 additional centers”, assured Olivier Véran.


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