“If the vaccination coverage is insufficient, an epidemic resumption is to be feared from the fall”

A woman receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a vaccination center in Garlan (Finistère) on March 2.

Dowing to an uncontrolled Covid-19 epidemic for lack of sufficiently effective measures, France has been facing a long so-called “stable” period since mid-December 2020 – characterized in reality by intolerable morbidity and mortality – before suffering a new epidemic rebound in several regions that only the Coué method allows us to imagine that it will not spread.

The arrival of the “English”, “South African” and “Brazilian” variants of SARS-Cov-2 is accelerating the pace of the epidemic. More than a new wave, we are facing a rising tide on an already high sea. The number of patients in intensive care rises, more slowly than during the first two waves, but inexorably. Around 60% of the usual capacity in resuscitation beds is already occupied by Covid-19 patients and the rest of the beds are no longer sufficient to take care of other pathologies.

Hospital deprogramming

It would have been more reasonable to follow the example of Germany or Denmark, which reacted strongly to the arrival of the variants. Even if, among them, the number of cases tends to rise again, this moderate increase comes after it has been divided by three since the beginning of the year.

The hospitals in these countries therefore retain room for maneuver, unlike France, where significant hospital deprogramming is already taking place. The situation is all the more worrying as only 2.7 million French people (4%) have received at least one dose of vaccine, and less than half of them, two doses.

Read also Covid-19: “It would be unrealistic to think that we will be done with this virus by the end of the year”, says WHO

Without a doubt, March and April will be very trying, but what will happen afterwards? We can hope that the vaccination campaign will intensify with an effect all the more spectacular as a large part of the population will also be immune due to the very strong viral circulation since October. We can also hope that the seasonal effect contributes to the decline.

The potentiation of the effect of vaccination where a pathogen has actively circulated has already been observed in the case of measles and pertussis. The period of very low transmission following the initiation of a mass vaccination is called the “honeymoon”. However, it is not sustainable since, over time, the immunizing effect linked to the circulation of the pathogen wears off. In the case of Covid-19, the honeymoon is likely to be short, because the immunity does not seem to be long enough. If vaccination coverage is insufficient, an epidemic resumption is to be feared next fall.

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