Covid-19, what you need to know this week: a seasonal virus?

Despite a slight rebound in contamination, Sars-CoV-2 is on the way to normalization.


With a slight increase in cases in recent days due to the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants, the Covid offers a small rebound. Should we be worried when the virus is gradually relegated to the rank of bad memory? Experts are betting on the evolution of Sars-CoV-2 into a seasonal virus, which could, however, put a strain on a hospital out of breath. And beware, just like the flu, Covid-19 still kills. A vaccination reminder campaign for the most vulnerable will be organized in the fall. The man of the week is the researcher Bruno Canard rewarded by the Institut de France, whose laboratory specializing in coronaviruses on the verge of bankruptcy in 2019 was “Safeby the Covid. And if other viruses threaten, that of monkeypox should not however be the new Covid.

Good reading,

Camille Lestienne, journalist at Figaro.

1. Towards a seasonal virus?

A rebound in contamination that does not worry specialists too much. Infographic Le Figaro

Normalization. With an average of cases over seven days up slightly, Public Health France alerted last Friday to a significant resumption of contamination. It is explained at least in part by the emergence of the new Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants, which are even more contagious than the BA.2 sub-variant responsible for the last wave at the end of March in France. They are gradually increasing and accounted for 0.8% and 5% of new infections respectively, according to the latest figures available on sequencing in France. Experts remain optimistic, however, pointing to the still declining momentum in hospitals. The virus would be normalizing and could behave like the flu. “We have accumulated injections and infections in recent months. This should at least protect us against an increase in serious forms“, reassures the epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet.

Wrung out hospital. But beware, Mircea Sofonea warns, “in many hospitals, emergency services personnel are at their wit’s end “. A summer wave could then have more serious consequences than expected, while many emergency services are forced to limit their activity due to lack of staff. Without waiting for the result of the “flash mission” on unscheduled care announced last week by the President of the Republic, the Minister of Health, Brigitte Bourguignon, yesterday Wednesday presented measures to overcome a “been difficult“: overtime paid double, student nurses “immediately» employable, appeal to voluntary retired caregivers. Some, like Marine Le Pen or Patrick Pelloux, would see a solution in the reintegration of unvaccinated caregivers, a drop in the bucket compared to real needs.

The numbers to remember

  • 895 patients in critical care (-12 since the day before)
  • 14.275 people hospitalized (-27 since the day before)
  • 11,627 new cases detected (-67% over seven days)
  • 74 deaths in 24 hours in hospital (148,591 dead since the start of the epidemic in hospitals and nursing homes)
  • 53.5 million people have a complete vaccination schedule (80% of the population)
  • 40 million had a booster dose (60% of pop.)

Source: Public Health France as of June 7, 2022

2. First dose or booster, the interest of the vaccine

For pediatricians, it remains interesting to vaccinate children against Covid, here in Louisville, Kentucky. JONATHAN CHERRY / REUTERS

Among the most vulnerable. At the start of the school year, a new vaccination reminder campaign will be organized for the over 65s. It will also concern people who are immunocompromised or who have a pathology at risk of a serious form of Covid-19. “We now know that there is a marked seasonal effect in the evolution of Sars-CoV2 contamination and the arrival of a next winter wave is certain.“, underlines Prof. Olivier Guérin, member of the Scientific Council who participated in the development of these recommendations. A challenge when only 76% of people over 80 have received all their doses, a much lower rate than in neighboring countries but much higher than among the youngest: 3% of 5-9 year olds have received at least one dose out of two, according to Public Health France, 10% of 10-11 year olds.

In children. The risk for children without comorbidities of developing a serious form of the disease is fortunately very low, but it is not zero. “There is a rare but real risk of pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndromes or Pims, an overreaction to the virus leading to organ failure,” remind the Figaro pediatrician Christèle Gras-Le Guen. Vaccinated children are fully protected. But the urgency remains above all to improve the vaccination coverage of children with comorbidities. “It is less than 10%, while they have a risk of severe form multiplied by 3.5 or even more depending on their pathologylaments Emmanuel Grimprel, infectious disease specialist and pediatricianthis is not acceptable and must remain a priority.”

3. The beautiful story

I put myself on Twitter in 2018 to make my lab known… otherwise we were going to die!

Bruno Canard, research director at the CNRS at Aix-Marseille University, specialist in coronaviruses.

This is the story of Bruno Canard, “saved” by the Covid-19 epidemic. In 2019, the team of this CNRS research director survived as best they could in a mezzanine on the Luminy university campus in Marseille. Their specialty? Viruses “with crownwhich everyone now knows as the coronavirus. “In January 2020, Étienne Decroly (one of the team’s virologists, editor’s note) alerts us to the danger of Sars-CoV-2. I remember he was telling us about 100,000 dead. To be honest, we didn’t really believe it at the time…”, recalls today Bruno Canard recently awarded the 2022 Scientific Grand Prize of the Simone Foundation and Cino Del Duca of the Institut de France. Released from anonymity and reinforced by several contracts, the scientist who has known many hazards does not forget to alert on the situation of research in France. “By integrating ourselves into higher education, we become a bit of an adjustment variable, he explains. And yet, there is a real funding problem in the country. When we compare ourselves to the international we realize that we do not play in the same category.»

4. Monkey pox, a new epidemic?

Monkeypox remains under control. DADO RUVIC / REUTERS

No, “monkey pox will not be the new Covid”. This is assured by the Figaro Daniel Bausch, professor of tropical medicine in London. Since the beginning of May, 550 cases of monkeypox have been recorded in 30 countries outside Africa, the World Health Organization announced last week, which fears today that the virus is settling in non-endemic countries. . For the specialist, the epidemic is completely controllable: “Monkeypox is much less transmissible than Sars-CoV-2. Above all, unlike the Covid-19 virus, there is no spread of the monkeypox virus before the onset of the disease. You have to have close and prolonged contact with a sick person.“Daniel Bausch expects”that the situation is under control in most regions in the coming weeks or months“. This epidemiccertainly not a risk to the general population“, he says again. In France, there were 51 “confirmed” cases of infection with the monkeypox virus last Friday, according to health authorities.

SEE ALSO – Monkey pox: will we all have to be vaccinated?

5. Mask and pass

Since March 14, health restrictions linked to the epidemic have been mostly abandoned.

The mask is no longer mandatory in transport but remains recommended in places of high traffic for positive people and contact cases at risk, symptomatic people and health professionals.

The sanitary pass (vaccine, negative test, certificate of recovery) is always requested at the entrance to hospitals, retirement homes and establishments for the disabled. It is required when crossing borders for travel to/from France.

6. The reflexes to keep

The virus is transmitted by droplets and aerosols. The barrier gestures detailed by the Ministry of Health must be observed to protect themselves and others:

  • Wash your hands regularly or use hydroalcoholic gel
  • Cough or sneeze into the crease of your elbow
  • Use single-use tissues
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Air the rooms as often as possible, at least a few minutes every hour
  • Greet without shaking hands and stop kissing

7. What to do in case of symptoms?

The disease is most often manifested by cough, fever or feeling feverish, loss of smell and taste, fatigue. If after a few days, you have trouble breathing or are short of breath, you should contact 15. The symptoms would be lighter with the Omicron variant, similar to those of a cold: sore throat, headache, runny nasal.

In case of signs of the disease, the most important thing is to get tested. The test, PCR or antigen, remains free for those who have not been vaccinated on medical prescription or after having been identified as a contact case by Health Insurance. In the event of a positive result on a self-test, a confirmation PCR test is recommended. While waiting for the result, you must isolate yourself and wear a mask. If the test is positive, isolation must last 7 days from the first symptoms for vaccinated persons, 10 days for unvaccinated people. It can be broken on D+5 or D+7 respectively, if you have a negative test and you have had no symptoms for 48 hours. Good to know, since March 21, 2022, contact cases no longer need to isolate themselves, vaccinated or not.

See you next week.


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