The disaster scenario is moving away in French hospitals, according to the Pasteur Institute

Difficult situation but under control: this is now the perspective of French hospitals facing Covid-19. After having started 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 that remain very complicated for the hospital but are not the hardest that could have occurred”, summarizes researcher Simon Cauchemez, who oversees the forecasts for 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 the pandemic. An impressive figure, linked to the record number of tests carried out before the holidays, themselves boosted by the hyper-contagious Omicron variant. According to the WHO, it should also affect half of Europeans very quickly.

The Institut Pasteur is reviewing 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 Pasteur Institute, whose forecasts are carefully monitored by the French government, has just revised its previous models, which were particularly uncertain and given at the end of December. The Institute is now focusing on a scenario, deemed the most likely, in which the peak of daily hospitalizations would be reached at the end of January and between 2,500 and just over 5,000.

This last case would exceed the record of spring 2020, at the start of the pandemic in France. But, unlike to date, it had taken strict confinement to stop hospitalizations and avoid a collapse of the health system. A heavy burden therefore, but the impact would be “potentially absorbable by hospital services, if we make an effort to reduce transmission” if the French reduce their social contacts by 10 to 20%.

Delta still there

On this level, the researchers are encouraging. They believe that this reduction is probably already happening, thanks in part to recent government measures to force companies to accept more teleworking. Faced with the explosion of contamination, individuals are also naturally careful to wear their mask 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 Great Britain, the Omicron wave hit France when its hospitals were already largely occupied by patients infected with Delta. In some regions, such as the South, “there are still a lot of hospitalized patients (because of) the Delta wave”, warned epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet, which leaves “less margin” in France than in the United Kingdom. United.

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