Covid-19. The pandemic could limit the impact of winter flu in France

In the midst of a pandemic of Covid-19, the first figures concerning the return of the influenza winter this year are reassuring. Since the start of surveillance, which began at the end of September, there has been no hospitalization in intensive care for flu-like symptoms.

On the side of city medicine, “Among the 262 nasopharyngeal samples analyzed, no influenza virus was detected”. Same results in hospitals: “Among the 8,249 results sent to the National Reference Center (CNR), 4 samples were positive for an influenza virus”, according to figures published by Public health France in his influenza epidemiological bulletin, week 46, from November 9 to 15.

The lowest rate in the last ten years

According to data collected by theOrganization of coordinated emergency surveillance (OSCOUR), the rate of emergency visits for influenza during the week of November 9 to 15 was 7.7 visits per 100,000 emergency visits. Which is the weakest early in the last ten years. This can be explained in particular by the implementation of containment and generalized barrier gestures to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the context of the pandemic leaves epidemiologists in the dark about the winter virus. “We are not able to say whether or not the flu will circulate in France and elsewhere this winter, but we are monitoring the situation closely”, explains to Parisian epidemiologist Sibylle Bernard-Stoecklin. Especially since pharmacies are facing a shortage of flu shots.

A shorter and less violent winter season 2019-2020

Already the flu epidemic of the previous season ended in March, had a lower impact than in previous years, according to the epidemiological assessment of the 2019-2020 season.

“The 2019-2020 winter season was marked by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in France from March, a little before the usual end of the flu surveillance period », continues Public Health France. Having lasted nine weeks, the epidemic of the 2019-2020 season is therefore part of the “The shortest since 2010”.

In addition, during this 2019-2020 season, flu-related deaths and hospitalizations have also fallen significantly. According to data from Public Health France, the number of influenza deaths was 8,100 in 2018-2010, compared to 3,680 deaths in 2019-2020. Same for hospitalizations “For flu syndrome”, which went from 10,723 in 2018-2019 to 6,164 in 2019-2020.


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