Covid-19, what you need to know this week: too rapid relief?

While the rebound of the epidemic is confirmed, the WHO judges that the lifting of restrictions was too brutal in France and in Europe.


Many think so, the WHO says so. While contamination is on the rise again in France and Europe, the lifting of restrictions would have been too fast. And yet, isn’t it better to learn to living with the virus while continuing to counter it with vaccinations and treatments? The China chooses to continue its zero Covid strategy as Hong Kong begins to ease (a little) the constraints.

And if not, what’s new on Sars-CoV-2? Good news, the transmission of the virus from the mother to the born or unborn child is very limited according to a study. We also learn that men have paid a heavier price for the disease in 2021. Finally, find the portrait of the epidemiologist Martin Blachiertelevision activist and controversial “reassuranceist”.

Good reading,

Camille Lestienne, journalist at Figaro.

1. Too abrupt lifting of restrictions?

Too fast. Would we have gone too quickly in lifting restrictions? This is what the World Health Organization (WHO) deplored on Tuesday in the face of the new surge in contamination. “The countries where we see a particular increase are the United Kingdom, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, France, Italy and Germany“, underlined Hans Kluge, the director of the WHO in Europe. “These countries lifted restrictions abruptly from “too much” to “not enough”“. Especially since the “sub-variant” of Omicron, the BA.2, is one and a half times more contagious than the original, according to a study. But if “the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be playing the game of eternal restarting, constantly postponing an end that has been announced many times“, the hour is not any more with the concern, analyzes Vincent Bordenave of the service Sciences of the Figaro. Thanks to vaccination, the strategy of “living with the virus” appears possible. And this despite the current rebound which should be absorbed quite easily by our healthcare system. “If this were confirmed, we would thus be heading towards a kind of normalization of the virus, with successive waves of less and less importance.“, adds the journalist.

The figures to remember in France

  • 1564 patients in critical care (-40 since the day before)
  • 20.653 hospitalized patients (-89 since the previous day)
  • 145.560 new cases detected (compared to 108,832 a week ago)
  • 91 deaths in 24 hours in hospital (141,319 dead since the start of the epidemic in hospitals and nursing homes)

Source: Public Health France as of March 23

Addicted to the mask. After the easing of sanitary measures on March 14, it is the turn of the isolation of contact cases to be abandoned. Since Monday, unvaccinated people who have been in the presence of a Covid-19 positive person no longer have to isolate themselves. Same diet for unvaccinated middle and high school students. Wearing a mask indoors, on the other hand, is “highly recommended for 7 days after confirmed case occurs“, emphasizes the Ministry of National Education. However, Breton private schools are going further and have decided to reimpose the mask indoors despite government decisions. A “unilateral and non-regulatory decision”, denounces the rectorate of Rennes. As for Cinemas, shops… Is it legal to continue to impose the wearing of masks on employees and visitors? They would have to provide a justification based on an analysis of the risks specific to their activity.

2. Seen from China

China is not giving up on applying its zero Covid strategy. JADE GAO / AFP

In China, no relaxation. Last week, President Xi Jinping ordered to continue the zero Covid policy and its strict confinements. And yet, the country’s weak herd immunity is perceived by the regime’s most critical as a weak point compared to the West. Added to this is the lower effectiveness of Chinese vaccines compared to that of messenger RNA vaccines, which the country does not have. “Many experts struggle to understand how China, so quick to measure up to the West, let the messenger RNA train pass», Reports Keren Lentschner of the Figaro economy. In Hong Kong, still in the grip of an epidemic outbreak, a relaxation of restrictions has been started. This is still not enough for reputable scientists who are urging the authorities to consider Covid an endemic disease and to emphasize vaccination, otherwise Hong Kong “will remain a closed port forever“.

3. What’s new on Covid?

According to researchers, the transmission of Covid-19 from mother to newborn or unborn child is limited. kieferpix /

Transmission limited to the baby. According to researchers from the WHO and the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom), the transmission of Covid-19 from mother to newborn or unborn child is limited. “The overall Sars-CoV-2 positivity rate in babies born to infected mothers is low” (less than 2%), write the authors of the study, and even more if we limit ourselves to exposure to the virus during childbirth and immediately after (less than 1%). Be careful however, the Covid remains dangerous for pregnant women who are more likely to develop a severe form and/or give birth prematurely. Hence the importance of vaccination before or during pregnancy.

A French vaccine? The vaccine from Franco-Austrian biotech Valneva, based in Saint-Herblain, near Nantes, could hit the market in May. “We hope to be able to have the final registration by the European Medicines Agency at the end of April.“, indicated last Thursday its general manager, for “first deliveries to Member States a few weeks later“. Valneva’s product does not use messenger RNA technology but the more traditional one of inactivated virus and could convince those who are recalcitrant to messenger RNA.

Vaccination figures in France

  • 54.2 million people received a first dose (80.5% of the population).
  • 53.3 million of French people have a complete vaccination schedule (79.1% of the population).
  • 39.4 million booster doses administered.

Source: Ministry of Health as of March 23

4. The portrait

Martin Blachier, the “reassuring” epidemiologist. AFP

Le Figaro Magazine took an interest in Martin Blachier, a key and controversial figure on television sets since the start of the health crisis. Alternately “freakish” or “reassuring”, the 36-year-old epidemiologist has established himself in the media sphere and today publishes a book Mega mess. Secret history of the pandemic. He knocks out the Pasteur Institute at all costs, which “plans for almost everything and its opposite, probably to cast a wide net and not be contradicted” ou, again, the Scientific Council, co-opted “without any contradictory, without any official procedure”, reports Judith Waintraub.

5. Mask and pass

Since March 14, the health restrictions linked to the epidemic have been mostly abandoned. However, mask and pass are still required in some places:

The mask is still required in public passenger transport and health establishments. Wearing a mask remains recommended 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.

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 out 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 non-vaccinated people 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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