Difficult situation but under control: this is now the perspective of French hospitals in the face of Covid-19. After entering 2022 in full uncertainty because of the explosion of cases linked to the Omicron variant, France could, like its neighbors, escape the worst. “We are moving towards scenarios which remain very complicated for the hospital but are not the harshest that could have arisen”, summarizes the researcher Simon Cauchemez, who oversees the forecasts of the Institut Pasteur. Sigh of relief in the cottages …
Like many other countries, France is facing an explosion in Covid-19 cases. Their average level is currently approaching 300,000 per day, a level not seen for two years of pandemic. An impressive figure, linked to the record number of tests carried out before the holidays, themselves boosted by the hyper-contagious variant Omicron. According to the WHO, it should also affect half of Europeans very quickly.
The Institut Pasteur reviews its copy
Fortunately, Omicron is also less dangerous than the previous variants. It causes fewer hospitalizations, both because populations are better vaccinated and because it is in itself less virulent, fewer patients are sent to intensive care, and they stay there for less time. On this basis, the Institut Pasteur, whose forecasts are carefully monitored by the French government, has just revised its previous models, which are particularly uncertain and given at the end of December. The Institute is now focusing on a scenario, considered the most likely, in which the peak of daily hospitalizations would be reached at the end of January and between 2,500 and a little over 5,000.
The latter case would exceed the record for spring 2020, at the start of the pandemic in France. But, unlike today, it had taken strict confinement to stop hospitalizations and prevent a collapse of the health system. A heavy load therefore, but the impact would be “potentially absorbable by hospital services, if an effort is made to reduce transmission” if the French reduce their social contacts by 10 to 20%.
Delta still there
In this regard, the researchers are encouraging. They believe that reduction is likely already happening, in part thanks to recent government moves to force companies to accept more telecommuting. Faced with the explosion of contaminations, individuals also naturally take care to wear their masks or to avoid too many gatherings. Nevertheless, the hope allowed by looking across the Channel must be tempered: only three quarters of French people over 65 have received a booster dose, against 90% on the other side of the Channel.
Above all, more than in Britain, the Omicron wave hit France when its hospitals were already largely occupied by patients infected by Delta. In some regions, such as the South, “there are still many hospitalized patients (because of) the Delta wave”, warned epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet, which leaves “less margin” in France than in the United Kingdom. United.