The Covid is still not taking vacations and is being talked about again in the heart of summer in Europe as in other countries, with an epidemic rebound hitherto moderate but calling for vigilance.
Coming out of the majority of minds after more than three years of pandemic and several waves, the SARS-Cov-2 virus was recently remembered by some French people, especially in the wake of the Bayonne celebrations.
An epidemic resumption in the heart of summer
A few indicators still in place confirm an epidemic recovery.
In the emergency room, visits for suspicion of Covid increased by 31% the week from July 31 to August 6 compared to the previous one, concerning 920 patients, according to Public Health Europe.
On the SOS Médecins side, medical acts for suspected Covid-19 jumped 84% in one week, to more than 1,500 acts in early August, according to SpF.
Probable illustration of the effect of the Bayonne celebrations, the increase in incidence in mainland Europe is “located in particular in the south-west and carried mainly by New Aquitaine“, noted the General Directorate of Health.
“The circulation of the Covid is certainly low in Europe but we must remain vigilant, because the situation is changing rapidly.“, judged the Minister of Health, in a statement sent to AFP. “We will have to live with the resurgence of this virus for several more seasons.“, added Aurélien Rousseau.
A rebound is also reported in the United States, the United Kingdom, but also in India or Japan.
+80% of cases reported worldwide in one month
The number of new cases recorded worldwide jumped 80% over one month, with 1.5 million additional contaminations from July 10 to August 6, the World Health Organization said on Friday.
If, since the beginning of May, the WHO no longer considers the pandemic a global health emergency, “the virus continues to circulate in all countries, continues to kill and continues to change“, underlined its director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday.
Its EG.5 version, nicknamed Eris by some scientists, is currently the most scrutinized because it could carry the rebound. Summer gatherings and lower immunity can also play a role.
“Don’t let your guard down”
This sub-variant of the Omicron family, member of the XBB lineage, seems more transmissible than others in circulation -probably under the effect of new genetic mutations-, and perhaps more capable of escaping immune defences.
More than 17% of Covid cases identified worldwide in mid-July fell under EG.5 (+7.6% over one month), according to the WHO.
#COVID19 is still circulating in every country.
— World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific (@WHOWPRO) August 13, 2023
“It has been identified in India, but also in other Asian countries, in North America, in Europe, where it tends to supplant the previous dominant strains. This variant is not reported, where it has passed, to cause specific symptoms or particular virulence“, told AFP Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva.
Until then, “available evidence does not suggest that EG.5 poses additional public health risks relative to other circulating Omicron progeny lines“, according to the WHO.
More “the risk remains that a more dangerous variant will emerge and cause a sudden spike in cases and deaths“, recalled Dr. Tedros.
Continue to monitor the Covid
Monitoring epidemic oscillations is however more complicated, due to a lack of data since the drop in the number of tests, sequencing and the stopping of monitoring devices.
“The fog is thick on the epidemiological situation almost everywhere in the world. It is urgent that the health authorities reinstate a reliable Covid health monitoring system“, according to Antoine Flahaut.
In Europe, the General Directorate of Health assured that “the health authorities have not let their guard down” more “adapted“surveillance car”Covid is now one of the viral acute respiratory infections, alongside influenza and RSV“, at the origin of bronchiolitis.
Over time and waves, the impact of Covid on hospitalizations and deaths has greatly diminished, thanks to the high level of immunity acquired by vaccination and/or infections. But it is not zero, and the long Covids are added to it.
Vaccination remains crucial, and the WHO urged on Wednesday to “intensify efforts to increase vaccination coverage“.
To better match the mutations of the virus, the pharmaceutical groups Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Novavax are preparing vaccines targeting the XBB line.
In several countries, including Europe, vaccination campaigns, focused on the most vulnerable, are planned for this fall, coupled with those against the flu.