5th wave of Covid-19: “It is the unvaccinated who are in danger”

the essential
Third dose, vaccination for 5-11 year olds, medication … A look back at Olivier Véran’s main announcements with the epidemiologist and biostatistician at the Gustave-Roussy center in Villejuif, Catherine Hill.

The Minister of Health Olivier Véran held a press conference on Thursday, November 25, on the health situation. Among the points discussed, the opening of the booster dose to 18 years and over, a reflection on the vaccination of 5-11 years or the arrival of a drug in December. Back on these announcements with Catherine Hill, epidemiologist at the Gustave-Roussy center in Villejuif.

Among the main announcements made, the opening of the booster dose to people over 18 years old. An essential measure in the face of the 5th wave?

For vaccinated people who have received two doses, one dose if they have already been infected, or three if they are immunocompromised, there is no rush to revaccinate them because most are still well protected. The primary objective of the recall is to reduce contamination. But who get contaminated? These are especially the unvaccinated.

According to the latest report from the Drees (the direction of research, studies, evaluation and statistics, editor’s note), the unvaccinated, in the age group of 20 years and over, are four times more likely to test positive and 8 times more likely to arrive in intensive care and to die. And of the unvaccinated, there are 6 million 12 years and over. And among them, there are 13% of unvaccinated people in their 80s and over. We must go and vaccinate them at home.

The booster dose is very good, it will improve protection a little and slow down the circulation of the virus a little. But it is still the unvaccinated who are in danger and the virus circulates especially among them, children and adults.

Vaccination for 5-11 year olds is also being considered. Vaccinating earlier could affect the situation?

There are 15,400,000 unvaccinated people including 9,400,000 under 12 years old. If we vaccinate part of it, the virus will circulate less. Apart from that, they are not sick so they are vaccinated altruism, so as not to infect the people around them because their risk of symptomatic disease, of serious disease, is very low.

Besides, we do not realize that they are positive. The English have done something that has never been done in France before, and they have done it 14 times since May 2020: they sent samples representative of the population, enough to take a nasal swab and send it to a lab for PCR testing. In each survey, 150,000 people aged 5 and over were tested. In these polls, we can see if the percentage of positives varies with age. And we observe that this varies very little. But if you don’t test people because they don’t have symptoms, you just don’t notice.

Read also :
5th wave of Covid-19: no re-containment, 3rd dose open to all … What to remember from the government’s announcements

A new antiviral drug will arrive in early December, Molnupiravir. After vaccination, the next step is medication?

Those are two different things. The drug will be one more tool so that, when people have Covid, it reduces their risk of arriving in intensive care and dying. But prevention is always better than cure. And we prevent it by reducing the circulation of the virus through vaccination, isolating positive people and finding them before they have symptoms.

This virus goes quickly: someone who is infected becomes contagious very quickly, and the 5th day, the day of onset of symptoms on average, is the day when they are most infected. Today in France, symptomatic people, according to the weekly epidemiological report last Thursday, were tested 2.2 days after symptoms and had the results half a day later. So when we tell them that they are contagious, they have been infected for eight days, and they are already in the decay phase, they are almost no longer contagious. It’s too late.

Should people be worried about the situation for Christmas?

On average, over the last seven days, there have been 119 new people arriving per day in intensive care. And that’s doubling, right now, every 24 days. So in 24 days, almost 240 people will arrive in intensive care every day. It is not very good. This is the trend of the moment: we went from 43 to 119 in just over five weeks. With what’s in place, which just prevents people who are already vaccinated, and who don’t make it to the hospital, from being too contagious, it’s all going to continue to increase.

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