Covid-19: vaccine reinforcement, essential in the face of “moderate epidemic recovery” according to Arnaud Fontanet

VACCINES – Renowned epidemiologist and Scientific Council member Arnaud Fontanet discusses the “moderate recovery” from the epidemic in an interview with the “Journal du Dimanche” on October 24. He believes that France can escape a new hospital crisis thanks to the withdrawal campaign.

He had predicted in September: “The epidemic should restart this fall.” Although the incidence rate in France has just once again exceeded the alert threshold of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the epidemiologist and member of the Scientific Council Arnaud Fontanet now describes the increase in contamination (around 5,000 cases per day at present ) of “moderate epidemic recovery”. .

A recovery due in part to the drop in temperatures and the fact that “we will go back to living indoors with the windows closed,” according to the scientist. “With us in France, there is a variation of around 33% of the R0 between the coldest and warmest periods,” he explains. However, the impact of temperature is less compared to “the arrival of a more transmissible variant”, such as Delta or its subvariants with variable transmissibility.

The doctor also noted the drop in the effectiveness of vaccines against contamination. “Même si ces derniers continue to protect more than 90% against serious forms of maladie, protection against infection passes 80% deux mois after the deuxième dose à 50% au bout de six mois”, expose-t -He. It is among young people aged 18 to 49, vaccinated in early summer and “often implicated in epidemic outbreaks” that “the decline in the efficacy of the vaccine will be felt,” predicts Arnaud Fontanet. However, it highlights a slight decrease in the effectiveness of the vaccine for severe forms, which can fall below 90% “in the oldest and most fragile”.

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Despite the recovery, the epidemiologist is quite confident in France’s ability to avoid hospital saturation. For this, according to him, there is only one solution: the booster dose, whose campaigns have already been launched for several weeks among those over 65. “Everything possible must be done to complete the primary vaccines, especially in the most vulnerable, and consolidate this experience through reminders,” says Arnaud Fontanet.

“A booster dose increases the concentration of neutralizing antibodies to levels five to ten times higher than those obtained after a second dose, he explains, divides the risk of infection by ten and the risk of ‘hospitalization by twenty, compared to people who received two doses, but without a booster injection. “A measure that could become necessary in all adults” if we cannot complete the primary and booster doses in the most fragile.

Two other viruses could also create tension in hospitals this winter: “The flu and the one responsible for bronchiolitis in children under 2 years of age”, whose consequences could be aggravated by the lack of immunity maintained in the population during the last two years. .

Vaccination of children from 5 to 11 years old

On the vaccination of children from 5 to 11 years, still in debate, the doctor is postponing. “We must carefully analyze the benefit-risk ratio in this age group where severe forms are very rare,” he explains.

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Although the High Health Authority (HAS) must soon present its recommendations on the subject, “it will allow us to observe the risk of adverse effects in this age group in millions of vaccinated children (…). The adverse events that occur no later than two months after the injection, we should be repaired in February ”, he concludes.

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