Summer begins in Europe and COVID-19 spreads – How likely are the new measures

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His coming summer coincided again with a recovery of cases of the young coronavirusdue to new variations of it Ομικρονprompting calls for vigilance.

– Increase in cases in Europe –

Many European countries have been facing a new rise in cases for the past few weeks.

First was Portugal, which saw a significant increase in new cases in May, which peaked in early June at almost 30,000 cases per day. This wave has since begun to deflate.

In Britain, cases on a 24-hour basis are again at almost the highest level since the beginning of the pandemic.

Italy also recorded 30,526 new cases in a 24-hour period (Saturday to Sunday), an increase of 63.4% in seven days, according to the latest data from the country’s Ministry of Health.

Germany has the same fate.

France is also not far behind, with SARS-CoV-2 transmission having accelerated over the past ten days on the mainland and a rate of infection now exceeding 44,000 (average seven days).

– New sub-variants –

This recovery is explained by the combination of two elements, explains to AFP Mircea T. Sofonea, lecturer in epidemiology at the University of Montpellier. On the one hand there is a “decrease in immunity”, ie “protection against a previous disease or a dose of vaccine decreases over time”.

On the other hand is the emergence of new variants of Omicron, BA.4 and especially BA.5, which are spreading much faster benefiting from the dual advantage of transmissibility and immune leakage.

“We are facing an ongoing evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies – because they have been infected in the past or have been vaccinated – and who should have a selective advantage to be able to pierce them,” said Olivier Schwartz. Director of the Ion and Immunity Unit of the Pasteur Institute.

“BA.5 and to a lesser extent BA.4 are spreading in Europe,” he added. “Epidemiological data show that it is 10% more contagious than BA.2, and that is why it is taking the reins.”

– Will there be an increase in hospitalizations? –

As for the severity of BA.5 “it is too early to say, in the absence of consistently documented clinical data,” Schwartz said.

The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) announced in mid-June that, based on still limited data, “there is no evidence that BA.4 and BA.5 are associated with an increased severity of infection compared to the variants circulating BA.” 1 and BA.2 “.

However, as with previous waves, an overall increase in COVID-19 cases could lead to an increase in hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions and deaths, the ECDC has warned.

The European population enjoys strong immunizations thanks to vaccines and previous infections. This offers him a stronger protection in advance against the risk of developing a severe form of the disease than against the risk of re-infection, which is expected to limit the extent of hospitalizations.

In France, the “moderate epidemiological increase” of recent weeks (the number of cases more than doubled in three weeks) “is accompanied by a slight increase in hospitalizations” and there is a risk of causing a “shift in time” of intensive care unit Deaths, said yesterday, Tuesday, Professor Allen Fisher, who is chairman of the Vaccine Strategy Council.

“Nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units of the hospitals,” reassured German epidemiologist Klaus Ster.

– New measures for the summer? –

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant”, maintaining test and monitoring systems.

“We expect that additional booster doses (of the vaccine) will be needed for groups at the highest risk of becoming seriously ill, awaiting future waves,” he said.

Some countries have already announced new measures. Italy decided in mid-June to extend the obligation to use the FFP2 mask on public transport (excluding airplanes) until 30 September. “I want to continue to advise you to protect yourself by taking the second booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, especially those in high-risk groups,” said Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who was currently diagnosed with COPD.

For his part, the German president of the World Medical Association, Frank-Ulrich Montgomery, supported the rapid adoption of a “toolbox” with mask, vaccination and contact limitation.

In France, the government this week asked the elderly to take the second booster dose “as soon as possible” as part of a “moderate epidemiological increase”. A quarter of those scheduled have taken the second booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine, a “clearly insufficient” percentage, the government said.

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