Could the 9th wave (and other viral diseases) ruin the holidays?

Only eleven sleep more before Christmas Eve. While the little ones count the days until the gifts are unwrapped, the big ones (finally Santa Claus) rush to the shops for the last purchases.

And after almost three years of pandemic, Covid-19 is not letting go. It signs a ninth epidemic wave, while other viral infections have also made a comeback. Pollution and hospitalizations are increasing, vaccination is decreasing. A few days before New Year’s Eve, can we still avoid the disaster – and the infection – during the holidays?

Ninth wave, triple epidemic and closed windows

The Covid-19 waves follow and resemble each other. Except that “the situation is special at the end of the year: two years ago the coronavirus was ubiquitous and the other winter viruses were extinct; last year the influenza epidemic was very late and weak, recalls Dr. Benjamin Davido, specialist in infectious diseases at the Raymond-Poincaré hospital in Garches (Hauts-de-Seine). There, this ninth wave of Omicron has the peculiarity of breaking at the same time as a severe wave of influenza and bronchiolitis. With an increase in hospitalizations for respiratory infections. Where before it was almost only Covid, see we a strong comeback of all the other respiratory infectious diseases”.

Another detail worries the infection specialist. “We are in the heart of what is likely to be the coldest December in ten years, and we are entering this winter period on the back of energy austerity, which completely obscures the problem of indoor air quality. It is super cold, we fear power cuts, and we tell people: “turn down the heat and avoid wasting energy”. Everyone keeps windows closed, at home as in closed public places, and without a mask, he emphasizes. Either the best cocktail to increase the pollution numbers”.

And precisely on the numbers side, the fear has been confirmed. Public Health France thus observes a “viral circulation that is still increasing. Despite strike movements by certain private medical biology laboratories, the majority of virological indicators, as well as those related to the use of care, showed that the epidemic was still progressing. And also notes in its latest epidemiological bulletin, a 29% increase in emergency room visits (+29%) for suspected Covid.At the same time, “for the fifth consecutive week, admissions for bronchiolitis represent half of admissions after an emergency room visit in children under 2 years of age”. As well as a “very sharp increase in hospitalizations, especially among those aged 65 and over” for cases of the flu.

The neglected vaccination

However, the busy epidemic weather at the moment does not seem to encourage the crowds to get vaccinated. Faced with this observation, Health Minister François Braun has mentioned in recent days a “serious situation”. Only “2.8 million people have been vaccinated against Covid-19 since the beginning of October, this is much less than our European neighbors”, he stressed. Same observation for influenza: “9.9 million vaccines were sold in pharmacies”, a 5% decrease from 2021.

Logical consequence: “The French are less well protected”, lamented the minister, who “solemnly calls for a jump in vaccination”. And who also called “solemn responsibility” of Ehpad’s directors to accelerate the vaccination against Covid-19 of the residents, of which only one fifth are vaccinated. In addition to the elderly, those with co-morbidities and pregnant women, “everyone can be vaccinated”, François Braun repeated, thus deeming it “completely normal” to be vaccinated “if you go to your elderly parents during the parties”.

Because on the timing side, we are still largely good, reassures Dr. Davido. We still have about ten days to make our Omicron reminder, which will quickly stimulate immunity: it starts to be effective after three days, and the peak of antibody production is after seven days, so it is now that ‘we have to go ‘.

The right moves to save Christmas

And if at Christmas it is no longer suggested, as it was two years ago, to send “grandpa and grandma into the kitchen” during the meal, the traditional barrier gestures remain de rigueur. “Everyone has relaxed, there is fatigue and mistrust of Covid, notes Dr. Davido. People are tired of the vaccine, the mask, the restriction and they have become accustomed to these epidemic waves and their catastrophic effects on the health of the French people and in the hospital .But the viral infections are there, and there is only vaccination and barrier movements to counter them”.

Among them, “wash your hands, air regularly and wear a mask in closed places”, recalled François Braun. “These movements are effective against all viral infections,” adds Dr. Davido. We also avoid transgenerational hugs, especially with more fragile people. And we are tested at the slightest doubt. In pharmacies, “we have observed an increase in the demand for tests and an increase in the sale of self-tests in recent days”, states Pierre-Olivier Variot, president of the Union of Syndicates of Pharmacy Dispensers (USPO), which awaits the arrival of tests of a new species “Test capable of simultaneously detecting influenza and Covid-19 for adults, but also bronchiolitis for children.” This “would make the general public even more responsible,” says Dr. Davido. But if HAS is “aware of this test still in the trial phase, it has not been the subject of a referral from the laboratory that developed it to date”, the Danish Health Authority replies at 20 minutes.

In the meantime, we continue to screen ourselves and isolate ourselves when we are sick, even if it is not Covid, specifies Dr. Davido. I see a lot of sick people who, under the pretext of a negative Covid test, cough in your face and say: “don’t worry, it’s not Covid”. So the message is simple: everyone retains their miasma and we wear a mask when we are symptomatic. It is safer for everyone to wear it in crowded closed public places: transport, offices and department stores”. A responsibility for the individual time, as the Minister of Health has ruled out making the mask mandatory, explaining that there are “simple gestures that do not need a text”.

Leave a Comment