The news of the last few weeks between elections and war in Ukraine has pushed Covid-19 far from the limelight and daily worries. However, the virus continues to circulate and is even on the rise again in France. The prospect of a seventh wave is becoming ever clearer.
Among our neighbors, Portugal experienced a new wave related to the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants. Cases and hospitalizations have started to rise again in the UK. In Germany, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach made a sad observation last week:
Unfortunately, the wave announced for the summer has become reality. The incidence rate rose to 472.4 cases per 100,000 population.
And in France? Here, too, the number of cases has been rising again since the beginning of June. The number of daily cases reported by Public Health France has recently been difficult to interpret due to the presence of public holidays and problems with seizures and catch-ups that have made the curve particularly uneven.
49% increase in one week
By smoothing the daily falls over 7 rolling days, we get a slightly more readable average. On June 20th there was an average of 46,146 daily contaminations in the last 7 days.
This indicator is rising sharply. A week earlier, on June 13, it averaged 31,000 cases per day. The increase is 49%…
The arrival of a new wave doesn’t seem obvious to you in the chart above? It may be a matter of magnitude as the January 2022 peak crushes the curve.
If we take a step back and start the curve in July 2020, after the first wave in spring and at the time of generalization of the tests, we find that the beginning of the current 7th wave is already peaking in autumn 2020:
During a press conference this Tuesday, June 21, 2022, the Department of Health described the trend as
moderate recovery of the epidemic.
The current increase coincides with the expansion in France of the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, which are sub-lines of Omicron.
According to the flash survey on the evolution of variants in France, conducted at the end of May, the BA.2 variant of Omicron was still the majority (72% of interpretable sequences) in France, but tended to be gradually replaced by BA.5.
The latter accounted for 24.2% of interpretable sequences at week 23, versus 13.3% in the previous week.
Also read: Do we have to fear a Covid wave this summer with the new Omicron variants?
A nationwide increase
According to consolidated data published by Public Health France on D + 3, for the period June 10-17, 2022, the national incidence rate was 459 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. This indicator has also increased by 50%.
The increase is evident across France, with Île-de-France currently showing the highest levels:
Here is the development by department, the increase is general:
Small resumption of hospitalizations
The arrival of Omicron changed our relationship to the epidemic and public health response. More contagious but less virulent than previous coronaviruses, it doesn’t require the same public health response as Alpha, Beta, Delta… For this reason, with 50,000 cases per day, no restrictions have been put in place. It is worth remembering that the previous restrictions were triggered after exceeding the threshold of 5,000 cases per day. It was 10 times less!
With Omicron and its variants, the compass is no longer directly the number of cases, but the amount of hospitalizations. In the immediate future, there is no significant increase in hospitalizations due to or with Covid-19 and the intensive care units in France:
However, according to data from Public Health France, the number of hospitalized patients is no longer decreasing. In the past three weeks, the number of new hospital admissions diagnosed with Covid-19 has risen again, from 2,441 in week 21 to 2,794 in week 23.
In the UK, the rise of subvariant BA.5 was accompanied by a 33% increase in hospital admissions. In Portugal, the first European country affected by BA.5, the number of hospitalizations increased to almost the level of the previous wave.
However, comparisons with other countries should be treated with caution. Mircea T. Sofonea, epidemiologist and lecturer at the University of Montpellier, reminds us that these comparisons are delicate.
because the current circulation, in addition to the existing sanitary measures, also depends on the epidemiological and immunological history, which is increasingly differentiated depending on the country.
And the vaccination?
The epidemic recovery is currently qualified as
moderate by the Ministry of Health, but health authorities are concerned about the lack of second injected booster shots. Out of more than 8.8 million people who are eligible for a fourth dose (over 60 years of age and those who are immunocompromised), fewer than 2.2 million have received this second booster shot.
Professor Alain Fischer, President of the Vaccine Strategy Guidance Council, also took note on Tuesday 21 June 2022
a little rest in hospital stays. He stressed during a press conference that the
significant decline of the protection provided by the first reminder
fully justified a new dose in the elderly for
Protect them from heavy molds until autumn.