Covid-19: why was the peak of the fifth wave never reached?

HEALTH CRISIS – The number of cases is constantly increasing in France while the peak of the fifth wave was expected in mid-December. How to explain it?

An indicator that is increasing day by day. According to the latest data dated December 20, more than 52,000 new Covid-19 contaminations are recorded every day in the country, and the incidence rate (545 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) has reached an unprecedented level since the start of the pandemic . A trend that should continue in the coming weeks, while the Minister of Health Olivier Véran expects more than 100,000 daily cases by the end of December.

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France affected by a fifth wave of Covid-19

Still, the peak of the fifth wave seemed on the way to being reached. Between December 8 and 13, the contaminations curve even stabilized. France was then on a false rising flat, a dynamic which gave hope for an imminent drop in the number of cases, like several of our neighbors. Even Olivier Véran believed in it. “It seems that we have reached an epidemic peak in our country”, affirmed last week the minister in front of the deputies. “But I can’t tell you yet if, after the peak, it will decrease, or if we will stay on a plateau.”

A short-lived peak reached in certain regions?

Neither of the two hypotheses was finally confirmed, and the curve started to rise again. As of Tuesday, December 21, nearly 73,000 cases were recorded, an increase of 15% compared to the previous Tuesday. The fault of the Omicron variant, much more contagious, and which should be the majority in France between Christmas and New Year, estimated the Minister of Health this Wednesday morning on BFMTV. The contaminations caused by this variant are in fact increasing at a more sustained rate than the decrease in the number of cases caused by Delta.

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The last days, “There was, however, a very clear peak in Delta, with a drop in the number of cases of this variant”, tells LCI Professor Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute for Global Health in Geneva (Switzerland). “This can be seen very well in Île-de-France. On the other hand, Omicron has gained the upper hand. The upsurge in the number of cases is entirely linked to this new variant.”

When will Omicron peak be reached? “No one can tell”

Corn “several French regions are currently experiencing the peak of the fifth wave“With a number of cases stabilized or in slight decline, continues Professor Flahault. This is particularly the case of Brittany, Pays de la Loire or New Aquitaine. A lull which could be short-lived. “Unfortunately, the Omicron variant is plugging into this wave barely reaching its peak to start rising again”, regrets the epidemiologist. “We will not have the expected respite.”

So when will the peak of this wave that started at the end of October finally be reached? Impossible to predict with a foreign variant of scientists a month ago. “It’s too early to know”, confirms Professor Flahault. “The characteristics of this variant are not yet well known, so it is difficult to know when this wave will come down, no one can tell. But in South Africa (cradle of this variant, Editor’s note), it ended up coming down. “ In the United Kingdom, affected a few days before France by Omicron, the incidence rate is still on the rise.

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