The resumption of the Covid-19 epidemic, sensitive throughout Europe, was foreseeable, but everyone preferred to look elsewhere. In one week, the number of new cases in France thus jumped by almost 50%, with 45,700 new infections per day over the period from June 12 to 18 (they were 365,000 at the height of the epidemic in mid -January).
Relaxation of barrier gestures in companies, public transport, festive and leisure places, etc.; low adherence to the second booster dose among eligible populations (i.e., in France, people with comorbidities and over 60s who received a first booster more than six months ago); weakening, also, over the months, of the protection conferred by three doses of vaccine… The virus exploits these faults at will to sneak in and prosper there.
Especially since the latest representatives of the Omicron variant – BA.4 and BA.5 – have acquired evolutionary advantages: increased contagiousness, compared to their predecessor BA.2 (which itself already reached record levels of transmissibility) ; and a new ability to escape defenses acquired by vaccination or by previous variants – even by Omicron itself in its first version, BA.1.
Results: in all European countries, the picture is similar. A resurgence of cases, mainly driven by the dissemination of the BA.4 and especially BA.5 sub-variants. Without, for the time being, this resurgence of infections not resulting in a marked increase in hospital admissions and deaths, but in a slight increase. Only Portugal is an exception: touched earlier by the wave, it already sees it, after two months, beginning to ebb.
On Tuesday June 21, the incidence rate reached 477 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, up 49% compared to the previous week, according to the latest data from Public Health France (SpF). This recovery, which began in early June, is observed in all metropolitan areas and for almost all age groups. An infected person contaminates an average of 1.39 others.
The BA.5 subvariant is now responsible for more than half of new infections. From June 12 to 18, 45,697 new cases per day were confirmed, according to the SI-Dep contamination database. The screening rate was 1,993.6 per 100,000 inhabitants (+ 6.2% compared to the previous week), and the positivity rate was 23.9% (+ 4.2 points).
As for the number of patients admitted to conventional hospitalization and critical care, after a period of decline, it is increasing slightly. The occupancy rate of intensive care beds by Covid-19 positive patients was 17%. Every day there is “more than 500 hospitalizations, including 60% for Covid-19, around sixty admissions to critical care and another thirty-eight to forty deaths”summarized Professor Alain Fischer, who chairs the Vaccine Strategy Guidance Council (COSV), during a press briefing organized on June 21 by the Ministry of Health.
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