The arrival in a whirlwind of the variant omicron to the chaotic landscape of COVID-19 It makes you dream again about the prospect of herd immunity, but experts warn that it is still too early to draw conclusions.
The French Minister of Health, Olivier Veran, dared to declare this weekend that “This fifth wave could be the last”, because of the blazing speed with which it is expanding omicron, a mutation of coronavirus highly contagious and seems less dangerous.
An optimistic scenario, according to Alain Fischer, responsible for the vaccination campaign in France. “Perhaps we are witnessing a beginning of evolution towards a more banal virus, like many others that we already know”he declared Monday.
Natural immunity, together with the effect of vaccines, would cause the entry into a much less severe phase of the global pandemic.
“There is hope”, indicates the epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet. “Sars-CoV-2 could join the other human coronaviruses that cause colds and angina every winter”, Explain.
“We are not close yet. We can foresee that new variants will appear, but our immunity will be strengthened over time, either by natural infection or with booster doses of the vaccine “, indicates.
But before that there will be predictably “A high number of infections in the population”said the director of the Israeli Ministry of Health, Nachman Ash on Sunday.
The risks to overburdened healthcare systems are high. Although more benign, the impact of omicron is yet to be determined. And if there are new variants, herd immunity may be clouded by more deaths.
“I remain hopeful that the virus will eventually look like the other cold coronaviruses, perhaps in the next two years,” indicates Julian Tang, virologist and professor at the University of Leicester, quoted by the British organization Science Media Center.
“If we want to begin to learn the lessons of the recent past of this pandemic, the first thing to remember is that it is very unpredictable”epidemiologist Antoine Flahault explained to AFP.
In his view, the concept of herd immunity is “Purely theoretical”.
“It appears that immunity from vaccines protects effectively against severe forms of the disease, but not all vaccinated equally.l”, Explain.
“Naturally acquired immunity appears to also provide a kind of protection, particularly against severe forms, although nothing is entirely clear”, Add.
Flahault, who currently directs the Institute of World Health in Geneva, believes that all possibilities remain open, including a greater-than-anticipated impact from the variant omicron, or simply the appearance of new mutations.
“I am convinced that it will not be the last wave” Eric Caumes, former head of the infectious diseases service at La Pitié Salpêtrière hospital in Paris, estimated on Sunday. “But maybe it will be the last with this intensity”, indicates.