With the worsening of the epidemic in recent weeks, which has led to new restriction measures, the government has its eyes on two sets of figures in parallel. On the one hand, the indicators of the epidemic, which continue to increase. The threshold of 30,000 patients hospitalized because of covid-19 was thus exceeded on Tuesday (30,639), which had not happened since the end of November, during the second wave.
Among these patients, 5,600 are in intensive care, well above the peak of the second wave (4,900 in mid-November) and less and less far from that of the first (7,000 in April 2020). In one year, 71,208 people died from covid in hospital (97,301 in total).
In parallel, the vaccination is progressing, at a rate which is still insufficient, but which is bound to accelerate. So far, 3.2 million people have been vaccinated (two doses) and 9.5 million have received their first injection. And the expected acceleration is starting to show in the numbers: 1.3 million injections were performed during the first six days of April, out of a total of 12.7 million since December 27.
90% of adults vaccinated?
The government is counting on larger supplies this month, with more than 12 million doses expected. Of large vaccination centers, including the Stade de France, opened this week.
After the three to four weeks of closure of schools which have just started, “we think that we will have slowed down the virus almost everywhere and we will have accelerated the vaccination. This will allow us to be in a more comfortable situation, ”hoped President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday during a videoconference meeting with a third class.
But “more comfortable situation” does not mean a return to the life before. According to models from the Institut Pasteur, 90% of adults should be vaccinated in France by September 1 to hope for a return to normal life, or 59% in the more optimistic hypothesis where the contagiousness of the English variant would be less than feared.
“If such vaccination coverage cannot be achieved, some control of the circulation of the virus may need to be maintained, for example through test-tracer-isolate, protective measures (for example masks) and a certain level of physical distancing, ”the researchers write.
However, according to the latest Public Health France survey, published at the end of March, vaccination intentions were at best 79% for those over 65, falling to 36% for 18-24 year olds. The goal of 90% of adults vaccinated therefore seems remote. Especially since some experts believe that vaccines alone will not be enough to end the epidemic.
Gradual reopening “from mid-May”
“Betting everything on vaccination is a (very) risky bet,” epidemiologist Antoine Flahault assured this Wednesday on Twitter. He pleads for a strategy of “minimal circulation of the virus” (“suppression / elimination”), like that implemented by certain countries of Asia or Oceania. In these countries, strict measures are taken as soon as cases appear, combined with a drastic control of the foci of infection (test, trace, isolate). At the same time, normal life can continue in areas where the virus is not circulating. These strategies “are not more tiring for the population, on the contrary”, judges Professor Flahault.
France, for its part, has long months of restrictions. Restaurants, bars and cultural venues remain desperately closed and travel bans have been in effect since this week, for a lighter version of the spring 2020 containment. “There will be relaxations for this summer, and yes, businesses will reopen there, from mid-May ”, promised Emmanuel Macron, quoted by the Le Parisien newspaper. However, “we will reopen less quickly than on May 11”.
On the other hand, the executive maintains its desire to close schools as little as possible: “It is essential that we resume classes in presence for nursery and primary on April 26, and for colleges and high schools the week of ‘after. I did not condition the reopening (…) to health indicators, ”assured Emmanuel Macron.
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