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Should we expect a strong return of the flu this winter?

The virulence of the flu epidemic currently ending in Australia is raising fears of an outbreak of the disease this winter. Especially since the French, after two years characterized by barrier gestures, are poorly protected.

After two winters marked by lockdown measures and social distancing measures that allowed the flu to fade into the background, is the viral disease preparing to make its grand comeback in France? At least that’s what former government “Mr. Vaccine” and immunologist Alain Fischer fears in an interview given to the Parisian this wednesday.

“This year it will be difficult to maintain the same level of protection: masks, distance, intensive hand washing… Faced with this relaxation, there is a serious risk of a flu epidemic,” he said. declared to our colleagues.

Weak protection of the population

Various signals make it possible to support the scenario proposed by the specialist. First, the absence of major flu waves during the past two winters, which prevented the French from developing antibodies against the disease, thus making them more vulnerable.

“With the last few flu seasons being small, I think the immunity in the population is low,” said Dr. Jennifer Nayak told CNN about the situation in the United States, similar to France.

Another worrying element is the situation in the southern hemisphere. In this part of the globe where the seasons are reversed compared to the northern hemisphere, the reproductive period of the flu is from April to October. The trends observed there make it possible to measure the virulence of the coming flu seasons.

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However, this year the cases of influenza have been very significant in Australia. As reported by Sydney Morning Herald, the number of monthly cases in 2022 has already exceeded those of 2017 and 2019, yet already characterized by a significant rate of disease and fatal cases. The peak of contamination was reached even much earlier. On the side of the numbers, the observation is without appeal. 147,000 cases of flu have been confirmed by Australian laboratories this year, compared to 731 last year.

“What happened in Australia is an element of caution,” admits Alain Fischer The Parisian.

“A very bad flu season”

In the United States, Anthony Fauci, medical adviser to the President of the United States, has already warned the Americans. They should prepare for “a very bad flu season”. The immunologist even fears that this return of the flu will be accompanied by a new wave of Covid-19.

In the United States as in France, the health services have so far never had to deal with such a situation. “Covid-flu cohabitation is nothing to be happy about. It is synonymous with a very high number of hospitalizations,” warned Alain Fischer.

Faced with this dreaded scenario that is gradually becoming more detailed, governments in the United States and in France are betting on vaccination. Both against the flu and against Covid-19.

Encourage vaccination

In its opinion on the approval of bivalent vaccines targeting both the original strain of Covid-19 and the Omicron variant, the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) recommended that the government set the start date of vaccination against influenza, set for 18 October, at connect the start of the vaccination campaign regarding bivalent vaccines, which will finally start on October 3.

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The purpose of the HAS was to encourage the French to be vaccinated against the two viruses at the same time. Especially since the prices of vaccination coverage for flu have been hardly encouraging in recent years. For the 2021-2022 flu season, only 52.6% of French people have been vaccinated, as reported by Santé Publique France.

Asked about Covid-19 by France information On Tuesday, Health Minister François Braun made a point of expanding his comments on flu and all winter infections. “The mask in transport protects you against the flu, against the transmission of bronchiolitis to the child… It is not just a principle of protection for the Covid,” he declared.

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