Covid: successive waves, severe forms in children, new variant… these 5 scenarios on the future of the pandemic

The Covid pandemic and the emergence of new variants, in particular BA.5, raise the question of the strategy to be adopted in the months and years to come. In this context, the Haut Conseil de Santé Publique has considered five scenarios on the future of the pandemic within 3 to 5 years.

As we know, “the pandemic is not over”, as the Scientific Council reminded us on July 20, which on this occasion offered three possibilities concerning the way out of the crisis. It is now the High Council of Public Health’s turn to consider the future of the Covid in 3 to 5 years, via five scenarios drawn up in June and made public this Monday, July 25, that Midi Libre reveals to you.

The High Council for Public Health (@hcsp_fr) issues 28 recommendations, based on 5 scenarios, “to prepare the French healthcare system and the population” following the epidemic of #Covid19 and its consequences.


— Nicolas Berrod (@nicolasberrod) July 25, 2022

Scenario number 1: “Living with the virus”

Probably the most optimistic scenario. In this case vaccination and treatments would have considerably reduced the risk of severe forms requiring hospital treatment.

The symptoms would then be banal, of the rhinitis type.

Scenario number 2: “The pediatric crisis”

A dreaded scenario. Here, a new variant would come “to wreak havoc” on children under 12 years of age and cause serious forms of the disease in this population. Transmissibility would be significant there due to the low vaccination coverage of children and less respect for barrier gestures, specifies in its press release the HCSP.

Scenario number 3: “The normality of the crisis”

The virus would become endemic here, i.e., it would “constantly rage” and be susceptible to occasional reactivation, including seasonally and via an extraterritorial mutant strain. As with the flu, annual vaccination campaigns would be put in place and would protect the most vulnerable populations.

Scenario number 4: “Return to an epidemic situation similar to that of March 2020”

In this scenario, the population and the infrastructure would be “exhausted by several years of tensions and restrictions”. France would face several successive waves of Covid each year. A strong wave would be likely to emerge, carried by a new variant. The barrier gestures would be poorly respected, by weariness of the population and a decline in vaccine immunity would be observed.

The healthcare system, already weakened, would be all the more degraded with a percentage of bed occupancy greater than 100% very soon after the start of the wave.

Scenario number 5: “The ultra-crisis”

The most dreaded scenario: “Following several successive waves, France is facing a new epidemic wave linked to a variant with high transmissibility and major severity, affecting all age groups of the population”.

Here, vaccine and treatment would lose effectiveness. Care services would be in agony with a strong disengagement of health personnel. The vaccine and treatments are less effective. The impact of this wave is amplified by the very significant destructuring of the health system and a disengagement of health personnel.

All pathologies would be much less well taken care of, Covid as well as non-Covid, according to the HCSP, with choices
difficult to do within hospitals depending on patient age, comorbidities, and accessibility to technical platforms.

Note: this reflection was carried out by a multidisciplinary working group made up of a wide variety of experts from the HCSP but also experts from national agencies and specialists recognized for their work in the field of referral.

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