four questions about the Covid-19 epidemic rebound

The latest figures published by Santé Publique France concerning daily Covid-19 contaminations and new hospitalizations leave no room for doubt. France and Europe are experiencing an epidemic rebound. “You could say it’s the 7th wave“, declared this Tuesday Alain Fisher, president of the Council of orientation of the vaccine strategy.

When we look at the increase in contaminations and the evolution of other indicators, such as hospitalizations, we are indeed in the presence of an epidemic rebound”, confirms Yannick Simonin, virologist at Inserm and at the University of Montpellier. What is the magnitude of this rebound? Is it due to the new variants? How to protect yourself from it? Here are the essentials to remember, in four questions.

What is the magnitude of this epidemic rebound?

There are currently 54,000 new Covid-19 contaminations per day on average, an increase of 50% compared to last week. An increase observed in all regions with slightly more affected departments, such as Lot, Haute-Garonne, Hérault, Gard, Corrèze, Haute-Vienne, Loire-Atlantique, Martinique and all of the Paris region.

For several days, Doctor Richard Handschuh has seen many Covid patients flock to his Paris office. “This are mainly young people who have abolished barrier gestures and whose Covid had disappeared from the environment“, he explains. “They just don’t know what to do anymore, whether to self-isolate or not, whether to go to work or not.” According to him, “we must readjust these rules so that it is clearer for the French”.

What are the causes of this rebound?

It is in fact a conjunction of three parameters: first there is a relaxation of barrier gestures in the population, the mask is no longer mandatory in any public place except in the hospital.

Second factor, immunity, conferred by vaccination or natural infection, declines over time.

And finally the variant BA.5which later replaces the latest Omicron variants, is increasingly responsible for new contaminations.

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Are the new variants more contagious?

For several weeks, two new variants of Omicron, BA.4 and BA.5 have appeared. They come from southern Africa and are responsible for most outbreaks in other European countries. Variants which are moreover more contagiousespecially BA.5.

It is estimated that the contagiousness gain of BA.5 compared to BA.2, responsible for the sixth wave in France, is around 10%“, decrypts for France Inter Yannick Simonin. “Perhaps also BA.5 has an additional ability to avoid the immune system and therefore cause cases of reinfections“, he continues.

Should binding measures be imposed again?

This is why the question posed to all specialists in the epidemic. But for the moment, their answers are still timid. There is no question of returning to measures that are too restrictive for the population.

The only one to risk it is Alain Fisher, president of the Council of orientation of the vaccine strategy: “In public transport, I think it’s probably reasonable“, he explained this Tuesday on France 2. “Certainly for fragile people, and probably for the whole population, because it is a collective protection measure, and by making the small effort to wear the mask we help protect fragile people.“, he detailed.

In addition, all the epidemiologists contacted by France Inter advise the French to complete their vaccination schedule, if this has not yet been done (the two doses plus a booster injection).

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