Indian variant: England “risks a third wave during the summer”, warns an epidemiologist

Doctor Marc Baguelin, epidemiologist and modeler for the English scientific council, alert Thursday, May 27 on franceinfo on the “risk of having a third wave during the summer” in England as the Indian variant of the coronavirus worries the authorities. France announced Wednesday the establishment from Monday of a “compulsory isolation” of one week for travelers from the United Kingdom.

The British government is engaged in a gradual deconfinement after a major vaccination campaign of the population. But “there are a lot of uncertainties” on the contagiousness of this variant and its resistance to vaccines, assures the scientist.

franceinfo: Should we be worried about the Indian variant of the coronavirus?

Marc Baguelin: There are long-term worries to be had. In terms of the pressure on hospitals and on mortality for the next few weeks, there is not too much concern because we are at an extremely low level, whether for the number of deaths or the number of patients in hospital. We were around 40,000 patients in the hospital at the time of the peak, now we’re down to less than 1,000. So we’re really at a low level. If we are at a very low level, the increase is still quite small. In the next few weeks, we should not have a situation that is very bad. But what happens is that we risk having a third wave during the summer.

Do you think the English government needs to slow down deconfinement?

We do not know yet. The government is due to vote in two weeks. We look at the data day by day. There is still great uncertainty as to the advantage this variant has. We see that this variant, in the same way as the so-called English variant in the fall, had replaced the previous variant. We see that this variant replaces the English variant, that is, it has an advantage, but it is not exactly clear how much more transmissible it is or how much it eludes vaccines. So that’s what we really watch day to day.

What are the trends in its resistance to vaccines?

We don’t know exactly, but we still have leads that tell us that the variant is probably more transmissible. We are talking about 50% more transmission or if we are optimistic 30%.

We also have results which say that the vaccine is less effective with this variant. We are talking about an efficiency of 10% less.

Marc Baguelin

to franceinfo

On the effectiveness of the vaccine, we usually give a number, but in fact, it is more complicated than that. There is efficacy against transmission, there is efficacy against severe forms, etc. So, it is possible that the variant is circulating more, but the number of very severe forms is not that large. Really, there are a lot of uncertainties.

France imposes a week’s isolation for travelers from the United Kingdom. Is this a good measure?

I think it’s consistent because we are in a race against time between vaccination and allowing the virus to circulate more by relaxing the measures. Slowing down the importation of the virus saves time, therefore having more people vaccinated, thus limiting the number of deaths if transmission increases when we have to reopen.

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