Covid-19 in France: here are some reasons to be optimistic about the continuation of the epidemic

By Olivier Saint Faustin

More than 460,000 positive cases were recorded on Tuesday, but several indicators seem to indicate that the end of the tunnel is (perhaps) not very far away.

Reading the record number of positive cases recorded on Tuesday evening, with 464,769 patients in 24 hours, it is difficult to be optimistic about the future of the Covid-19 epidemic in France. And yet, several indicators encourage it to be, and the horizon seems to be clearing up.

On Monday, Arnaud Fontanet, member of the Scientific Council, estimated that “the worst-case scenario is moving away” and that “the peak of infections has passed these days, at least in Île-de-France”. On Tuesday, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said that there are “reasons for optimism today”. Is the fifth wave beginning to ebb? Decryption.

Stabilization in the sheaves

The main indicator of the evolution of the epidemic in France, the incidence rate remains very high, with 3,063 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to CovidTracker. But a glimmer of hope has appeared in recent days: in Île-de-France, the first region hit by Omicron, the incidence has been falling continuously since January 9, when it had reached 4,118. On January 15, it n It was more than 3,670. Over one week, 15 metropolitan departments also show a drop in their incidence rate. In 9 others, the increase is less than 5%, and it is between 10 and 20% in the majority of territories. What hope soon to reach a plateau, or even a decline.

Other good news: Omicron, which leads to fewer serious forms, being now the majority at 92.5%, the explosion of cases is not accompanied by a saturation of hospital services. On average, in France, 75.3% of intensive care beds are occupied. A peak was reached on January 12 (3,985 patients) and since then the increase has given way to a stabilization of the figures, at just under 3,900 patients. Hospital admissions are still high (26,526 occupied beds).

Vaccine effectiveness

Another essential element in monitoring the epidemic, the daily number of deaths seems to have reached a plateau, with an average of between 207 and 215 since January 8. For comparison, in November 2020, more than 400 people died every day while the number of positive cases was six times lower than today.

Another cause for hope: several treatments against serious forms of the disease will soon arrive in hospitals, such as Paxlovid, from Pfizer, and Xevudy, from GSK. Finally, it should be noted that compared to Omicron, “vaccine protection remains high against severe forms […], even if it is lower than that against the Delta variant”, assured the Department of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (Drees) on January 14.

All of these elements give hope for “a peak” in “hospital admissions in the coming week”, estimated Arnaud Fontanet on Monday. However, one parameter remains to be monitored: it is “not excluded” that the Delta variant “goes back in the coming weeks”, warned the researcher. A hypothesis that would once again blur the forecasts…

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