With nearly 8,000 hospitalized patients with covid-19 recorded this Tuesday, August 3, the occupancy of hospital beds returned to the level reached a month earlier. Same situation for the only critical care beds: 1,331 identified patients, it is as much as at the end of June. A balance sheet far from the peaks of last autumn and spring, during which there were more than 30,000 occupied beds, including 5,000 to 6,000 in critical care. But this undeniable observation takes on other shades when we go into the details of the ages.
The 60-year-old difference is on the verge of being overturned
Despite the sudden increase in contamination observed for several weeks, the number of very old patients treated remains low: 360 critical care beds between 60 and 70 years old, this is the level of October 2020. Beyond 70 years , it has only been a few days that the entries are more numerous than the exits. Daily admissions are increasing less quickly than during previous peaks of contamination.
Result: while the number of patients over the age of 60 has so far always been higher, in critical care, than that of younger patients, their level has become almost equal in recent weeks, with more than four patients out of 10 under 60 years old. In comparison, at the end of September 2020, when the same number of beds occupied in critical care were recorded, three quarters of them were occupied by patients over 60 years of age.
More marked increase below 40 years
If the fifty-year-old segment is more concerned, among those under 40, there are 130 patients in critical care, a rapid increase since mid-July. This is almost as much as the peak in November, although the spring peak was much larger. It is above all twice as much as ten days earlier. The sudden increase in contamination for several weeks explains it.
“On average, patients admitted to intensive care at this time in France are five years younger than in previous waves”, summed up the Minister of Health Olivier Véran during his trip to Necker hospital on Tuesday. According to the latest epidemiological update from Public Health France, there were as many patients over 62 as there were under 62 on July 27, in critical care.
Obvious effect of vaccination
The finding provides a very positive signal: the elderly populations, the most at risk, are also the most widely vaccinated. The fact that they are less present in the most serious cases, despite a new peak in contamination, reflects the vaccine effectiveness. The weight reduction of older patients followed the progress of the campaign.
At the same time, the upward trend in hospitalizations “seems to have started earlier among those under 70”, points out the national health agency in its weekly epidemiological update. So many observations to “compare with the vaccination coverage in older people and a much higher incidence rate in younger people in recent weeks”, she underlined in a press point quoted by The world.
Severe cases on the rise in the youngest
Behind the good signal of vaccination, this second aspect of the high incidence in the youngest still worries many doctors. Because they not only see fewer older patients arriving, but also more younger ones than in previous waves. The Delta variant is no stranger to this: more contagious, the first data gathered suggest that it could also cause a larger proportion of severe cases.
This is particularly the case in the areas most affected by this recovery, such as Occitania, where the regional health agency warns of the strong effect of this wave on hospital services. If they are less exposed to the risk of death, the youngest are still affected by serious cases, but do not necessarily protect themselves. “For them, covid is a cold or death, there is no middle ground, they do not know what a serious form is”, summed up a short time ago, with the Parisian, a pneumo-oncologist at Sainte-Musse hospital in Toulon, in the Var.
[CoviD19] In #Occitanie the indicators are very worrying. An incidence rate up to 12 times> the alert threshold in some departments. All age groups are concerned with a very significant impact on the health system. We must react now! pic.twitter.com/CbnysFydhN
– ARS Occitanie (@ARS_OC) July 31, 2021
The fear of an enlarged circulation
In addition to the consequences of contamination, like the long covid, and of a stay in intensive care, this situation rekindles another fear, that of the transmission of the virus to older and more fragile populations, in particular as the return from vacation and the start of the school year approach.
The incidence seems to be starting to decline in these age groups, but contamination remains significant. What to explain the accent always stronger put on the vaccination of the youngest by Emmanuel Macron and the government. In the line of sight: the hope of reaching, by the fall, a threshold of coverage making it possible to control the epidemic.
The incidence rate in France is stable or continues to increase (slightly) in all age groups, except …. among 20-29 year olds, where it has been declining for five days. # Covid19 pic.twitter.com/gYVwxrZ7x8
– Nicolas Berrod (@nicolasberrod) August 4, 2021
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