in its first opinion, the Covars evokes a wave of “moderate intensity” but remains cautious for the future

Omicron’s subvariant, BQ.1.1, grows in France and represents now 15% of viruses detected in France. However, its “level of immune escape” is deemed “uncertain” by the Committee for monitoring and anticipating health risks.

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The health situation is under control, but must be monitored. The Committee for monitoring and anticipating health risks (Covars) mentions in its first opinion (PDF) of Thursday, October 20, released on Monday, a current epidemic wave of Covid-19 from“moderate intensity”. However, he remains cautious for the future in the face of potential new variants. “A pandemic rebound in France and Europe affects the elderly (…) with a dynamic to watch”, specified the successor to the Scientific Council, chaired by immunologist Brigitte Autran.

In its sights in particular: the rapid growth of the Omicron BQ.1.1 sub-variant, detected in France in mid-September. It now represents 15% of the viruses detected in mainland France and almost half in Ile-de-France. Gold “the immune escape level of BQ.1.1 is uncertain”warns the Covars.

Be that as it may, the epidemic restart observed in France, as in part of Europe, “does not seem to be due to the appearance of a new variant stricto sensu”, he believes, but rather to a set of other factors. Among other things, the drop in collective immunity and the climatic conditions favorable to the spread of the virus.

According to the watchdog, “the analysis of the growth rates of the various epidemiological indicators suggests that we could be very close to the epidemic peak”. But “these encouraging signals must be tempered” because of a “rapid growth of the BQ.1.1 variant on the national territory”.

In the meantime, the epidemic wave that appeared in mid-September 2022 “has less direct hospital impact than previous waves”. But before winter even begins, “Hospital capacities remain significantly reduced”warns the Covars.

Other winter infectious diseases such as influenza, bronchiolitis or gastroenteritis could also affect the health system. The Covars therefore recommends continuing the prevention and vaccination measures put in place to deal with Covid.

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