• Under the effect of the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron, “a slight increase” in contamination has been observed in recent days by Public Health France.

  • An epidemic recovery first observed in Portugal, and today in France.

  • But it seems premature, to date, to fear a seventh epidemic wave of coronavirus in France.

Our selective memory is activated, all to our happiness to find a more or less normal life.

We have almost forgotten it, and yet the Covid-19 has not yet said goodbye to the scene, and continues to reinvent itself constantly to present us with new numbers.

Today, its BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are top billing, causing an outbreak in South Africa and a sixth wave in Portugal.

In France, a slight resumption of contamination has been observed for a few days.

Should we already see the sign of a seventh wave?

Indicators on the rise

“We are already seeing a slight increase (…) in viral circulation” of the coronavirus, noted Guillaume Spaccaferri, epidemiologist at Public Health France.

Thus, the average of cases over seven days, an indicator which makes it possible to smooth out abnormal variations, has been on the rise for a week and now exceeds 20,000 new daily cases.

That is an increase of 25%, while the number of contaminations has been falling steadily for two months.

"It seems that we are starting on a new wave" of the coronavirus epidemic, said Friday on franceinfo Professor Antoine Flahault, epidemiologist, director of the Institute of global health at the faculty of medicine of the University of Geneva.

While all of the cases in France are due to the Omicron variant, these two sub-lineages, potentially even more contagious than the previous ones, are progressing, even if they remain a minority to date.

"Detection of BA.4 and BA.5 during Flash surveys is increasing: 0.8% for the first and 5% for the second" during the last survey, compared to 0.5% and 1.5 % the previous week, emphasizes Public Health France in its latest bulletin.

BA.4 and BA.5 soon to be the majority in Europe?

Both of these sub-variants are gaining traction across Europe.

“When we sequence the genome of the viruses that we identify, they are more and more often BA.4 and BA.5”, noted Antoine Flahault.

At the height of the latest wave that hit Portugal from April, BA.5 alone accounted for 87% of cases as of May 30.

Switzerland, Germany, United Kingdom: the phenomenon is observed in various countries, where BA.4 and BA.5 cause rebounds.

“The BA.5 wave has definitely arrived in Switzerland and pushed the effective reproduction rate above 1. The most recent estimates are 1.1 to 1.4 on June 1 and 1 to 1.6 on June 6, ”said Christian Althaus, epidemiologist at the University of Bern, on Twitter on Tuesday.

"BA.4 and BA.5 are already dominant in Switzerland to date", added Professor Isabella Eckerle, virologist at the Center for Emerging Viral Diseases in Geneva, on the social network on Tuesday.

What is happening with #SARSCoV2 #COVID19 & #Omicron subvariants in #Geneva #Switzerland at the moment?

Data from our Center @gcevd @Hopitaux_unige: BA.4/5 has reached already dominance at the time of writing this tweet https://t.co/BKR83TzNUN 1/n pic.twitter.com/6O2jsQH0JG

— Isabella Eckerle (@EckerleIsabella) June 7, 2022


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A progression closely monitored by the European health authorities.

Already, on May 13, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) sounded the alarm, classifying them as “worrying variants” and judging them likely to impose themselves in Europe and “to lead to a significant overall increase cases of Covid-19 in the European Union in the weeks and months to come”.

“The absence of hospital impact” for the moment

However, this resumption of the epidemic is not causing widespread panic for the time being.

"There is no signal to suggest that BA.4 or BA.5 are more severe than other Omicron lineages," reassured epidemiologist Anna Maisa.

In addition, the resumption of contamination takes place in “the absence of hospital impact”, notes Guillaume Spaccaferri, of Public Health France.

Optimism reinforced by the reassuring evolution of the waves in South Africa and Portugal, where the increase in contamination has not been accompanied by massive waves of hospitalizations and deaths.

Soon a fourth dose for all?

However, faced with the "highly probable" scenario of an imminent resumption of the circulation of Covid-19 in France, the health authorities recommend a new anti-Covid vaccine booster in the fall for all people at risk, including this time those with comorbidities.

The objective is to “Anticipate” to “Limit the impact of a future wave, in particular on the most fragile”, to reduce mortality “Associated with Covid-19 and the spread of the epidemic, maintain the capacities of the healthcare system and the vital operating needs of the country”, explained the High Authority for Health (HAS) at the end of May, which considers “highly probable that the circulation of the virus will periodically reintensify”.

In tune, the new Minister of Health, Brigitte Bourguignon, estimated that if "the hardest part is behind us", "vigilance" must remain in place in the face of a possible return or "a small outbreak" in the fall.

Thus, while a fourth dose of vaccine in the general population is not currently on the agenda, HAS considers "necessary to be ready to anticipate the pessimistic scenario" which would require a fourth dose for all adults.

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