Brazilian or South African variants: why the Covid-19 epidemic is soaring in the Creuse


FOCUS – Two clusters in nursing homes, where the elderly had been vaccinated, were identified.

The Covid-19 epidemic seems to engulf the Creuse. Two clusters in nursing homes have lit the fuse and made the figures jump. In “Bois Joli”, in Auzance, two vaccinated residents died while they were infected with Covid-19 and vaccinated. “They were very weak, relativizes Thomas Simon, director of the establishment, contacted by Le Figaro. These are people aged 90 and 99. They were positive for Covid at the time of death but we are not sure that this is linkedHe continues. In all, since March 26, 24 residents and 14 caregivers have been affected in the facility. Almost all of the residents had received two doses, but only a minority of the staff. “There is, among the cases, a high prevalence of the South African or Brazilian variant», Notes Thomas Simon. Health authorities do not statistically differentiate between the first, the 501Y.V2, and the second, the 501Y.V3. Analyzes are in progress. We will have the results in the coming days», Estimates Emmanuel Bahans, medical consultant of the Regional Health Agency in Haute-Vienne and Creuse.

From this cluster, and one in another nursing home, the epidemic figures are racing in the Creuse, even if they should be put into perspective because the department is sparsely populated. The incidence rate (infected patients per 100,000 inhabitants) is up + 141.7% over one week, according to ARS Nouvelle-Aquitaine. There are 186 cases tonight. The R0, the reproduction rate of Covid-19 is 1.33, according to the latest figures from Public Health France. It is this figure that allows us to grasp the dynamics of the epidemic. Here too, that of Creuse is the highest of all the departments of France, DOM-TOM included. On the dock, the Brazilian or South African variant, therefore, which represents 33.1% of cases according to the latest data from Public Health France. For example, in neighboring departments, their prevalence is only 0.7% in Haute-Vienne and 1.5% in Corrèze (3.3% in France).

Paradoxically, the Creuse is rather ahead of vaccination. 25.6% of the population of the department received at least one dose and 10.7% two doses (against respectively 18.75% and 6.78% of the French). “We know that it does not protect 100% of cases, and we do not know if it prevents the transmission of the virus, explains Emmanuel Bahans. The vaccine or natural immunity protect almost 100% for the historical strain and the English strain against severe forms, but some studies show that this figure is a little lower for the South African or Brazilian strains. We don’t have quite the proof yet, explains Emmanuel Bahans.

You have to put a sanitary cordon around the Creuse for a few days to go up the entire chain of transmission.

Antoine Flahault, epidemiologist at the University of Geneva

Health authorities are investigating to understand how such a situation could have happened. “It is essential to put a sanitary cordon around the Creuse for a few days to go up the entire chain of transmission, pleads Antoine Flahault, Professor of Public Health at the University of Geneva. It is possibly only one case that caused all of this.

For ARS Nouvelle-Aquitaine, we should not be alarmist. It is the weak population of the department that explodes the percentages. Only a few dozen people are in fact affected. “The number of people affected by the South African or Brazilian variants is in fact less in Creuse than in the surrounding departments. We have an unusually high percentage because we had two clusters. But it will decrease I’m pretty confident, notes Emmanuel Bahans.

In France, variants from Brazil or South Africa are among the main concerns of researchers. In an opinion released on Sunday, the scientific council fears that the BR-P1 variant, one of the Brazilian strains, will become the majority this summer.

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