While the Delta variant continues to progress, to the point of becoming the majority in new cases of contamination, Emmanuel Macron must speak publicly this Monday, July 12 at 8 p.m. For virologist Mylène Ogliastro, lack of collective immunity, new restrictions are inevitable in the days and even years to come.
The end of the sanitary tunnel is not yet for today.
While Emmanuel Macron is due to speak this Monday, July 12 at 8 p.m. in a televised address, the specter of the Delta variant raises fears of a fourth wave in the country. According to The world, the President of the Republic should announce compulsory vaccination for caregivers, the extension of the health pass as well as the end of free PCR tests, especially for the unvaccinated. Should we also fear a backtracking on the last measures lifted on June 30?
“It is essential to go back on certain health restrictions”, answers Mylène Ogliastro, virologist at INRAE, at the microphone of Sputnik. “We are very far from having a sufficient level of immunization in the world population. The virus circulates, evolves and comes back to us with travel. ”
Initially, this speech was to allow the Head of State to announce a new cycle of reforms and “turn the pageOf the health crisis which has now lasted a year and a half.
“At the start of something that looks like an epidemic wave”?
Alas, the Delta variant, now responsible for nearly one in two of the new cases of contamination according to Public Health France, decided otherwise. With 3,777 cases per day, the number of cases in France has increased by 63% over the past week.
Quivering admissions to hospital and in intensive care possibly this week, it would also be consistent with the increase in cases for almost two weeks. https://t.co/2bFluHUcYC
– GRZ (@GuillaumeRozier) July 12, 2021
«We are at the start of something that looks like an epidemic wave“, Warned Olivier Véran this Sunday, July 11 on Radio J.”The hospital load so far is not increasing, but the same will happen as last summer», He insisted. According to the British authorities, the Delta variant (ex-Indian variant), now in the majority across the Channel, is 40 to 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant (ex-English variant). Dominique Le Guludec, president of the Haute Autorité de santé, estimated on BFMTV that the Delta variant was “50% more contagiousThan the English variant.
A more transmissible, but less lethal variant
«It is much more contagious than the B.1.1.7 which came to us from Great Britain, which itself was already more contagious than the original strain that triggered the first wave», Confirms Mylène Ogliastro.
– Mediavenir (@Mediavenir) July 12, 2021
But should we be worried about it? According to the latest study by the government agency Public Health England (the British equivalent of Public Health France) released on June 25, the case fatality rate of the Delta variant is only 0.2 to 0.3% on 170,000 cases against 1.9% of the 225,000 cases of the Alpha variant identified across the Channel. “The English curves show that there is not really an increase in the number of hospitalizations thanks to the vaccination effect. Most of the people who get the infection today are unvaccinated.», Specifies Mylène Ogliastro. Failure to prevent transmission, or even contamination, sufficiently broad vaccination coverage would therefore prevent serious forms linked to the virus, according to the virologist. But such a scenario, if confirmed, does not for all that augur an imminent exit from the crisis, specifies our interlocutor:
“The danger is to re-circulate a virus with insufficient collective immunity. Ultimately, the risk is to recreate viral diversity in a vaccinated landscape. The virus could thus bypass or escape the immune system. In terms of viral evolution, it is quite possible, ”explains Mylène Ogliastro.
In other words, allowing the virus to circulate presents a major risk: that of seeing new variants appear as individual contaminations progress. A not very optimistic scenario which makes say to the virologist of the INRAE that “the health crisis can last another three to five years». «Every time the virus infects someone, there is a resampling of potential variants. On huge population sizes, a variant with an evolutionary advantage may very well emerge and become dominant, as we have seen with the British then Indian variant.», She explains.
Vaccination, “the only solution we have”?
Hence the need to “block transmission at all costs», Pleads Mylène Ogliastro. Problem: the various vaccines against Covid-19 would be less effective in the face of this new mutation of the virus. According to the Israeli Ministry of Health, Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine would only be effective at 64% against the Delta variant, against 95% against other forms of the virus. According to Public Health England, the efficacy drops even below 60% in the case of the AstraZeneca vaccine. In the absence of treatment recognized by the health authorities, vaccination remains despite everything “the only solution we have»At present, estimates Mylène Ogliastro:
“As long as hospitalizations and severe forms continue to decrease, we can put up with barrier gestures and wearing a mask. We do not have an effective treatment for the moment, because it takes much longer in research time. “
In its latest opinion published on July 8, the Scientific Council now considers that “the epidemic can only be controlled with 90% to 95% of people vaccinated or infected.“An estimate revised upwards,”taking into account the transmission of new variants, especially in people over 60 years of age», Specify the researchers. A threshold “unattainable as it is“For Mylène Ogliastro, who nevertheless risks a screening:
“It is possible that the virus is still as transmissible in the future, but diminishes in virulence thanks to immunity, like a cold. But it can take twenty or fifty years before it gets there… ”, slips the virologist.