Sudden rebound in the Covid-19 epidemic: should we fear a 7th wave?

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Since March, we have almost forgotten the Covid-19. While at the time, the epidemic figures were running out of steam almost everywhere in France, the government initiated an unprecedented reduction in the health protocol.

No more masks outdoors, forgotten vaccination passes, less frequent screenings… The series ended in style on May 16, with the lifting of the wearing of masks in public transport, the last bastion where it was still compulsory. .

As summer approaches, a wind of rediscovered freedom is blowing across France. With finally, the impression of finding the life of before. It was without counting on the virus, which seems, for a few days, to gain ground again on the territory.

“In week 21, the circulation of SARS-CoV-2 continued to slow down, but less markedly compared to the previous weeks”, indicates Public Health France.

In its epidemiological update of Thursday June 2, the organization announces the following figures for the week of May 23 to 29:

Figures that remained down from the previous week.

But since May 29, the trend has suddenly reversed.

“While the number of daily cases of Covid-19 has been decreasing by around 20% each week, it has been climbing since the end of the Ascension Bridge. The pace even seems to be accelerating: 6% on Monday, 10% on Tuesday, 19% on Wednesday, 20% on Thursday…” notes Le Parisien for its part.

Could it be the effect of the long weekend, which could have pushed more people to get tested? Nothing is less sure.

“Such a rapid trend reversal is not usual and there are probably other explanations than screening, such as the dissemination of new variants which spread faster”, explains epidemiologist Mahmoud Zureik in the columns of Parisian .

These worrying variants are the Omicron sub-lineages, which are gaining more and more ground.

According to Santé Publique, 94% of the interpretable sequences on May 16 concerned the BA.2 variant.

The report also notes an “increase in the presence of the mutation at position L452 on screening (12% in S21), in connection with the increase in certain Omicron sub-lines including BA.4 and BA.5”.

These new variants, which are now circulating on the territory, with more or less intensity depending on the departments, would therefore be at the origin of this rebound in recent days. The beginnings of a new wave? We can fear it.

Because these variants have a very important vitality, and could more easily affect people already contaminated by Omicron. BA.2 “is the most contagious variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that we have seen so far,” WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove warned on March 19 during a press conference.

Another factor could explain the epidemic rebound at the start of June: the easing of restrictions and the “great relaxation” in terms of barrier gestures as summer approaches.

And even if the first half of May was marked by exceptionally high temperatures, it has been much cooler for a few days, and the storms are increasing.

“However, we now know that the virus is at a disadvantage in the summer period, since we go out and air the rooms more easily”, notes Le Parisien.

Other countries are currently experiencing a similar situation, particularly in Europe where cases are also on the rise in Denmark or the Netherlands… Without however that we can yet speak of a real new wave.

For the time being, however, the pressure is not yet felt in hospitals in France, confirmed to us an infectious disease specialist practicing in an establishment in the Paris region. But until when ?