A few months ago, we wondered: “When can we say the COVID-19 pandemic is over?” Then we witnessed a noticeable decline and crossed the finger of accusation that the numbers were not rising. We then estimated that other than indicators of a pandemic, the pandemic would end…when the media stopped talking about it and the general public wouldn’t care.
Today, there is no doubt that one news item is chasing another and that the front pages of the press are legitimately occupied by the war in Ukraine, and in France, with the presidential election, the Covid-19 plan is back in action. We were also told that in schools, we no longer test. We read on Twitter that Omicron “It is no longer a public health problem»we understand from this: “It is no longer a problem because the intensive care units are no longer saturated and hospital doctors are less concerned.”
For a while, we were thinking about the danger of “clinging” very personally to the epidemic, because we know very well that we are at risk of becoming victims of a form of Stockholm syndrome. Indeed, for more than two years, we have been living and sleeping covid and we must be wary of any form of association with our pandemic jailer, which would motivate us not to abandon him even though he would be behind us. We hear it, even if we remember that we formulated this same dilemma at the end of every wave or so.
The first question we must ask ourselves is whether we can reasonably hope today that the pandemic will finally be behind us? So the response of the two hostages who lived more than two years with their jailers, Covid, won’t surprise you: we don’t think it’s reasonable to say the epidemic is over! And we are not the only hostages trapped in the epidemic cell. In fact, the World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee recently confirmed that Covid-19 is still “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”the terminology used in the International Health Regulations means that the epidemic threat remains.
Let’s look at the indicators of the epidemic more closely. If we are seeing a decline reported in all European countries, the spread of the virus is still very strong there, especially in France where the decline in infection rate is also slow. The infection rate, after peaking at around 1,300 in early April, remains close to 1,000 during the second half of April, still close to 100,000 people registered as positive each day and more than 100 dying from it each day.
You will understand that we cannot say that it is nothing and that it will no longer be a public health problem. No one would think to say that myocardial infarction, the leading cause of death in France before the epidemic and which kills 90 people a day, would not be a public health problem. Therefore, the issue of avoidable loss of life, isolation of the injured, absenteeism from work or school, or even medium and long-term consequences are all problems that fall squarely within the realm of public health!
All this without taking into account that the number of cases is greatly underestimated.
In fact, since testing is no longer necessary, due to the widespread and widespread use of self-tests, many people infected with SARS-CoV-2 pass under the radar of official health surveillance. They no longer pass through the pharmacy box or laboratory box to be tested and therefore do not enter the daily count.
Furthermore, while cases of recontamination are frequent with Omicron BA.1 and Omicron BA.2, it appears that infection“guess Through health monitoring only if a positive person has not already tested positive in the previous 60 days (data retention period on SI-DEP, the secure platform where Covid-19 test lab results are systematically recorded).
Finally, the use of self-tests and antigen tests, the reliability of which has significantly decreased, as Omicron also reports that many cases are not detected.
So everything leads us to believe – if we can’t see it – that the virus still circulates very widely within a group that is no longer naive and has acquired, thanks to vaccinations and possible repeated infections, a certain level of cellular immunity that enables mostly and at the present time, to avoid the most severe shapes.
Therefore, given that the virus is so widespread everywhere on Earth’s surface, there is no reason to believe that it will not mutate again. Moreover, many new variants are already waiting at the gate of international competitions for a qualification that we know is next. No one knows, however, whether the future variants selected will be more or less virulent, nor more or less contagious. No one knows whether or not they will survive from acquired, vaccination, or humoral immunity. Because if there is a myth many people want to believe, it is that the virus is always evolving towards less virulent variants that are easy to tame!
But our opponents ask us, like visitors who bring food to their prisoners, isn’t this yet another disastrous rhetoric about Covid? So look at the past few months, hasn’t the Omicron gotten any prettier? Wasn’t all our luck in the end? Well, no, we answer the prisoners of certainty, it was indeed the vaccine and not Omicron that changed the situation.
Suffice it to note the devastation wrought by Omicron in Hong Kong, a highly developed region of China where half of the people over 60 were vaccinated upon Omicron’s arrival. The massacre there was horrific, with a death rate of 5% among those over 60, compared to 0.1% in South Korea or Western Europe, where the elderly are better immunized. How can we imagine that the Chinese authorities will confine the residents of many megacities, including Shanghai of 26 million people, into obsession, if Omicron becomes this brave alternative that drives residents to colds for a few days?
Because its population is not adequately immunized, possibly by less effective vaccines, the Chinese government fears a Hong Kong-style scenario. On the scale of mainland China, it would be a far greater tragedy than he is doing everything to try to avoid it.
Another element and not the least: the long Covid, on which gray areas remain. The first cases of persistent symptoms have been described with Omicron and it is not clear what the protective role of the vaccines will be. Some chains are calling Covid tally rates of 30%, which sounds massive. Although it is estimated that 10-15% of people who contract Covid will develop a long-acting type, with infection levels rising in recent months, this will become a real public health problem and we cannot afford to wear blinders. Unassured!
Admittedly, even if work is piling up on this topic, we don’t yet know everything about the long-running Covid, but instead of putting dust under the rug, we think it would be wise to do everything to protect ourselves from a contagious viral overdose in our closed environments. and poorly ventilated, in order to reduce the risk of severe and late forms.
Today, and this is fortunate, apart from China struggling as we said with obvious stress like previous strains in a vulnerable and poorly vaccinated population, no one is recommending the strong measures we experienced at the beginning of the epidemic. No one in Europe offered the reservation, even at the height of the Omicron-BA.1 wave, last January.
We have acquired a high immunity of the population, especially those at risk of contracting severe forms. We’re seeing a different kind of coronavirus that continues to respond well to available vaccines, at least in terms of severe forms. And we have a unclogged hospital system, even if it appears to be reeling from this health crisis. All of this makes it possible not to have to impose curfews, close stores or propose new restrictions, and that goes back to managing this pandemic.
But haven’t we learned any of the lessons of the recent past so that we don’t muster the knowledge and skills to limit the spread of the virus through other interventions? –You remember the emmental model, right? Why shouldn’t individual and collective measures of freedom-killing such as mask-wearing and indoor ventilation become a priority? Why accept that there are still more than a hundred deaths a day when we now have effective treatments that will dramatically reduce the death rate from Covid?
Do France and Europe prioritize the search for monoclonal antibodies and antivirals, so that they can counteract the new variants and give them to people most at risk of developing dangerous and poorly protected forms of vaccines, whether to prevent or treat infection? Or will we continue to rely primarily on research and development in North America? We salute them, we are very happy to have them, but where are the tests, vaccines and treatments for Covid-19 from French and even European laboratories and pharmaceutical groups?
From our own think tanks about the pandemic, it seems to us that not many of us are promoting the isolation of positive people while providing assistance to those who will be affected financially. Since I went to vote, the French government has not considered it necessary to wear a mask for people who know they are positive.
We may be captives of an epidemic that seems to last forever, but we believe that we should not give up testing or monitoring a pandemic: we urgently need reliable indicators to monitor its development, early detection and installation of new variables on the territory, and control of a number of contaminations. Epidemiological surveillance today is only hospital-centric, because we have entered a state of complete uncertainty about the circulation of the virus in the community. We require that the tests be performed on representative samples of the population, or at least on wastewater and in a rigorous manner.
A country like France deserves to have reliable health monitoring because it is intolerable that there is so much margin of error, and not knowing when it reaches 100,000 cases during the day, if in fact it was not, a million infections wouldn’t have happened. in the country on the same day.
We’ve been able to tame the beast through vaccinations and population behaviors in recent months, but this is an armed peace that it’s all about, with new variants on our doorstep that seem to be waiting their turn to attack again. Will it be thanks to reduced immunity or increased virulence? We risk finding out too late because we are not about to sign the armistice, the guards are already coming down from their walls, the guards from their watch posts. The war is over, they hit us hard.