Public Health France warns of an unprecedented and uncertain “triple epidemic”

The simultaneous circulation of three respiratory viruses is “completely unprecedented” and its evolution still difficult to predict, underlined Public Health France on Friday.

The “triple epidemic” facing France, with the simultaneous circulation of Covid, bronchiolitis and influenza, is “completely unprecedented” and its evolution still difficult to predict, underlined Friday Public Health France.

As a reminder: the flu hits the metropolis early, adding to a rapidly rising Covid and bronchiolitis at record levels for more than 10 years in infants. This situation hits an already tested health system, as in other countries, notably the United States.

A “rather strong clinical impact”

“The situation is completely unprecedented” and filled with “uncertainties”, summarized Didier Che, deputy director for infectious diseases, during a press briefing from the public health agency.

“In previous years, there were rather respiratory viruses which followed one another: a first circulation of rhinoviruses gave way to RSVs (main virus involved in bronchiolitis, Ed), which, very generally, left the not to the flu. There, we have co-circulations”, detailed the epidemiologist Sophie Vaux.

This situation is “worrying” because the addition of these pathologies can lead to “a fairly strong clinical impact, especially on hospitals”, she added.

And this, even if these viruses do not affect “exactly the same populations”. The flu and the Covid mainly affecting the oldest and most vulnerable, bronchiolitis mainly infants.

France “not completely helpless”

It is also “difficult to predict the occurrence of the peaks” of the three epidemics, in particular a possible simultaneous peak of Covid and influenza, or even bronchiolitis, at Christmas.

One of the big unknowns is a possible competition between the influenza and Covid viruses which could make it difficult for them to coexist and limit the risk of simultaneous peaks. “It still takes a little time to know if this notion of viral cannibalism is confirmed”, judged Didier Che, for whom it is also “too early to draw conclusions from the American situation”.

But, he insisted, France is “not yet completely helpless” and has “a preventive arsenal” in the face of this triple epidemic.

Public Health France has insisted more than ever on vaccination against Covid, but also the flu, especially as the end of the year celebrations approach with family gatherings conducive to the transmission of viruses.

If this is infrequent, it is also not impossible to be contaminated by several viruses at the same time. Beginning of November, the National Academy of Medicine had alerted on this risk of “viral co-infections”. Barrier gestures (mask in closed places, hand washing, ventilation, etc.) are therefore always strongly recommended by the health authorities.

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