Science

Covid-19: the highlights of the week of May 4, 2021

The numbers of the week

As of May 3, 2021:

– 5,656,007 confirmed cases of Covid-19 (+152,011 in one week).

– 105,159 cumulative deaths since the start of the epidemic (+1,874 in one week).

28,950 patients with Covid-19 hospitalized, including 5,630 people in critical care.

15,873,161 people received at least one dose of vaccine (+1,770,871 in one week).


Coronavirus: the situation in France as of May 3, 2021 (AFP – Simon Malfatto)

– Info of the week –

The deconfinement calendar and that of vaccination in France

Emmanuel Macron indicated, on April 29, a gradual deconfinement in 4 stages (conditioned to the health situation in each department):

  • May 3: end of travel restrictions and certificates beyond 10 km.
  • May 19: curfew pushed back to 9 p.m. and reopening of the terraces of bars and restaurants, closed shops, museums, cinemas, theaters and performance halls with limited gauges.
  • June 9: curfew at 11 p.m. and reopening of bars and restaurants, stadiums and sports halls.
  • June 30: lifting of the curfew.

The day after these announcements, the President of the Republic also specified the gradual opening of the anti-Covid vaccination schedule:

  • Since May 1: people over 55, health and medico-social professionals, pregnant women and adults with comorbidity (cardiovascular pathologies, “complicated hypertension”, obesity, history of stroke, etc.) .
  • May 15: all adults over 50.
  • June 15: all adults.


Vaccination against Covid-19: which vaccine on which date (AFP – Simon Malfatto)

In Overseas France, the schedule differs, with an opening to vaccination for all adults since April 30 in several departments, especially in Guadeloupe, Martinique and Guyana.

Science

The vaccine reduces the risk of transmission of the virus well, according to several studies

This was one of the big questions around anti-Covid vaccines: if they protect serious forms, do they also prevent the transmission of the virus? Several large studies carried out “under real conditions” in the United Kingdom, Israel and the United States do indeed point in this direction. They show a reduction in the circulation of the virus after vaccination, as well as a lower viral load in vaccinated people. Science and the Future reviews these different studies in a dedicated article.

Hopes around the antiviral Molnupiravir

Molnupiravir, a broad-spectrum anti-viral drug (which works on several types of viruses) and initially developed against influenza, has shown good results against Covid-19. The two phase II clinical trials showed that the drug helped prevent the virus from replicating in the body. The research has now entered phase III, with 1,500 patients.

In France

Middle school and high school students returning face-to-face, a risk of impact on the spread?

A week after the start of the school year, the schoolchildren also found their classrooms on Monday. The high school students have made their comeback in half-gauge, with an alternation of face-to-face and distance classes.

Will these reopenings have an impact on the spread of the virus? According to several published studies, children aged 0 to 9 have little or no impact on the epidemic. 10-19 year olds seem to have infection rates similar to those of adults, but without developing serious forms. The risk therefore lies for teachers and staff in colleges and high schools. “Teachers affected, and measures to protect them could be considered“, conclude the authors of a study published in the journal PNAS.

A risk of fourth wave this summer deemed highly likely by epidemiologists

While the drop in the number of contaminations since mid-April is good news, the risk of a rebound in the epidemic during the summer remains very present. Several experts warn that the epidemiological situation is still too tense, in particular due to high hospital pressure (5,630 people are still hospitalized in critical care as of May 3) and too slow vaccination.

Science and the Future reviews the different scenarios of epidemic recovery, presented by the ETE epidemiology and evolution of infectious diseases modeling team (CNRS, IRD, University of Montpellier) and by the mathematical modeling unit of infectious diseases of the ‘Pastor Institute.

Abroad

In India, the second epidemic wave is a tsunami

The situation in India is more and more catastrophic, with more than 350,000 new daily contaminations recorded for a week (figures undoubtedly very largely underestimated) and a completely asphyxiated health system. In this country which has 0.53 hospital beds per 1,000 inhabitants (against 5.98 in France), patients have died at the doors of hospitals, awaiting admission. We also die indoors for lack of oxygen.

Reluctant to implement a new national lockdown, the government has opened up vaccination to all adults in the country, despite the shortages. The Indian vaccine strategy is based on 4 vaccines: AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Covaxin (from the Indian laboratory Bharat Biotech) and Covishield (from the Serum Institute of India).

Soon 150 million vaccinated in the United States who can do without a mask outside

Nearly 150 million Americans (or 44% of the population) will soon have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine. On the strength of these good figures, the health authorities have announced that Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 will now be able to do without the mask outdoors, except in very crowded places where a risk of contamination remains.

More than 3.2 million deaths worldwide

The pandemic has killed at least 3.2 million people worldwide since the end of December 2019. The United States remains the country with the most deaths (577,000), ahead of Brazil (408,000), India (222,000) , Mexico (217,000) and the United Kingdom (127,000).


The world facing the coronavirus (AFP – Simon MALFATTO)

These figures are globally underestimated. They are based on daily reports from national health authorities, without including reassessments based on statistical bases.


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