Covid-19 and ninth wave: what scenario for 2023?

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With the triple epidemic currently raging in France (Covid, flu and bronchiolitis), we have the impression that the health authorities are not taking the problem head on when we have just passed the peak of the ninth wave of Covid infections. There have been five in 2022 alone.

We are therefore far from the end of the epidemic, as confirmed by the Swiss epidemiologist and director of the Geneva Institute of Global Health, Antoine Flahault with our colleagues at Capital.

For him, we have seen an acceleration of the pandemic for a year, which may raise fears of a rebound very quickly after Christmas: “Almost everyone has been contaminated by Omicron. We are clearly not at all on the end of the pandemic, but rather on a very strong acceleration. We’re more and more in a permanent high transmission plateau.”

For him, the non-application of barrier gestures is the cause of these waves, while the mortality linked to Covid-19 is 4 to 5 times higher than the flu. Mandatory mask wearing could be a solution, especially for the most vulnerable populations who should wear an FFP 2: “There are studies that show that in the United States, the obligation to wear a mask is much more effective than if we are content to recommend it”, emphasizes Antoine Flahault.

The surgical mask is only used if a significant number of the population wears it, because it makes it possible not to contaminate others. A simple altruistic gesture.

The alert threshold for the incidence rate of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants is easily exceeded in several departments currently in France. Which comes to question at what level to put the gauge. Antoine Flahault proposes: “We could possibly start from the level of hospitalizations or admissions to critical care. For example, from 1,500 people hospitalized for Covid, we impose the mask ”.

For indoor air contamination, no threshold has been set either, whereas if a sensor displays a rate of more than 600 ppm (part per million, editor’s note), the mask would be very useful and should be compulsory.

Measuring the level of contamination of the ambient air does not seem to be one of the priorities of the health authorities. While, like drinking water, sanitary measures could be very effective: “I like to take the example of water quality. John Snow discovered the reasons for the cholera epidemics in London, it was the fact of drinking the water of the Thames. The epidemic stopped after its demonstration, ”says Antoine Flahault. Which makes the parallel with the Covid: when you enter polluted air, you breathe in the viruses exhaled by others. We must therefore guard against it.