“Admit the scale of the Covid-19 epidemic to ask the democratic question”

Tribune. Since October 29, France has been confined again. As with the national containment of March 17, the country was taken aback by the announcement. However, in view of the political decisions taken since July, this seemed inevitable to all those, including the scientific council, who analyze the epidemic with tools other than their ideology or their own interest. The re-containment signals a double failure, that of controlling the epidemic, but also that of the democratic debate, which it is urgent to open.

As long as the population is not immune, a relaxation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (wearing a mask, barrier gestures, teleworking, etc.) will lead to a restart of the epidemic. This restart took place in France in July. The models raised concerns that it would show up sooner, but the school closures and massive teleworking in June delayed it. In July-August, teleworking, travel restrictions, physical distancing: apart from wearing a mask, almost all precautions have been abandoned, fortunately mitigated by summer and life in the great outdoors, which dilutes the viral particles.

Individual guilt

The return to school in September was marked by the continuation of the carefree summer. Teleworking has almost been abandoned, canteens reopened, public transport too often crowded. The recovery in schools was done almost as before the epidemic. As for colleges and high schools or universities, if the wearing of the mask has been introduced, no serious consideration has been made on the cleaning of the premises, their ventilation, the filtering of the air, collective catering times … or, everything simply, monitoring the spread of the virus (a student being declared a contact case only if he had spent more than three hours without a mask with another student who tested positive). The government contented itself with putting out the fire when it was too visible, as, for example, in Bordeaux and Marseille in September, and playing on individual guilt but, in the end, allowed the epidemic to spread exponentially.

From August, all the people who wanted to analyze quantitatively the epidemiological data in an honest way saw the restart.

Today, critical care services are saturated and the first analyzes suggest that the second epidemic wave will be as deadly as the first. But, unlike March, it’s impossible to say that we didn’t know, that we didn’t have time to prepare. From August, all the people who wanted to analyze quantitatively the epidemiological data in an honest way saw the restart. Several teams have pointed out the risk of saturation of hospitals in November. Even the scientific council very officially and publicly sounded the alarm bells in August. But, blindly or cynicism, these alerts were not taken seriously by the government or President Macron.

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