July 15, 2024

Cause for concern?: Coronavirus returns in the middle of summer

Cause for concern?: Coronavirus returns in the middle of summer

Far less testing is being done than at the height of the pandemic, but the number of cases is again increasing moderately in some countries.

Photo: Uwe Anspach/dpa

The pandemic may be over, but the virus is still there: In many countries, the number of cases is increasing at a moderate level. There is likely a new cofactor responsible for this, the World Health Organization warns caution.

no time? Blue News sums it up for you

  • The coronavirus appears to be spreading more quickly in some countries – including in Europe.
  • It is possible that the Eris variant is responsible for the increase in the number of cases at a low level.
  • The epidemiological situation is less clear than it was at the height of the pandemic due to lower numbers of tests and less follow-up.

Despite the height of summer, Covid-19 appears to be on the rise again in many countries, including France. The outbreak has been mild so far, but there is still cause for vigil. Reports of the outbreak again have also come from the United States, Britain, India and Japan.

Having faded from most people’s consciousness after more than three years of pandemic and several waves, SARS-CoV-2 has recently returned for some. Some indicators confirm such a development: in the week from July 31 to August 6, the number of emergency admissions in France on suspicion of Covid-19 increased by 31 percent compared to the previous week, affecting 920 patients, according to data from Santé Publique Emergence France (SPF). ).

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“Effects that remain moderate,” Public Health Authority Assessment. Finally, more than 4,000 weekly publications accompanied the waves of summer or winter 2022.

Alternative Iris

Although the World Health Organization no longer considers the pandemic a global health emergency since the beginning of May, “the virus continues to spread in all countries, and it continues to kill and change,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed at a press conference on Monday. Wednesday.

The variant EG.5, dubbed Eris by some scientists, is currently the most followed, as it could be responsible for the surge in numbers. According to some experts, summertime crowds and waning immunity could also play a role.

This variant of the omicron family, a member of the XBB strain, appears to be more transmissible than other circulating variants, possibly due to recent genetic mutations. Iris may be better able to evade immune defenses.

Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva, explained to AFP.

“Dense fog” about the epidemiological situation

At this time, “available evidence does not indicate that EG.5 poses an additional public health risk compared to other circulating progeny strains of Omicron,” according to WHO. And Tedros stated that “the risk still exists in the emergence of a more dangerous variant that leads to a sudden increase in cases and deaths.”

However, tracking epidemiological fluctuations is more complicated than it used to be due to a lack of data since numbers and sequencing and tracing tools collapse.

“The fog around the epidemiological situation is very thick all over the world. The health authorities urgently need to set up a reliable health surveillance system for Covid-19 again,” says Antoine Flahaut, who is particularly committed to analyzing wastewater in Europe.

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Over time and waves, the impact of Covid-19 on hospitalizations and deaths has diminished significantly thanks to higher levels of immunity acquired through vaccination and/or infection. However, it is not zero and Long Covid problems are added.

Vaccination remains a crucial tool

According to Antoine Flahault, the question is “whether immunocompromised people and elderly people with mild symptoms are prescribed tests to benefit from early antiviral treatment that is effective in reducing the risk of severe forms”.

Among other things, the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer is already working on modified vaccines.  (archive photo)
Among other things, the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer is already working on modified vaccines. (archive photo)

Credit: KEYSTONE/EPA/ROLEX DELA PENA

Vaccination remains crucial and the World Health Organization on Wednesday called for “intensified efforts to increase vaccination coverage”. Vaccines against Covid-19 lose their effectiveness against infection over time, but they are still considered very protective against severe courses. Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Novavax are currently preparing vaccines that target the XBB line to better respond to mutations in the virus.

Vaccination campaigns are planned this fall in several countries, including France, which will focus on those most at risk and will be accompanied by influenza vaccinations.