The HuffPostOn this Christmas Eve, the daily contaminations of Covid-19 continue to break records. The Omicron variant replaces Delta and becomes almost the majority in Ile de France.
COVID-19: Omicron variant makes Europe shudder. To face it, the Netherlands confines its population until January 14. Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Belgium and Denmark, are tightening restrictions. On the Spanish side, the mask is once again mandatory abroad, and in Catalonia a curfew has been set, from 1 to 6, except on Christmas Eve.
I expect the same with two British studies published this Wednesday, December 22. They confirm that the Omicron variant would cause fewer hospitalizations than Delta. But scientists say that “the risk of infection remains extremely high” and this variant could cause more serious cases.
To fully understand where France is facing with Covid-19, The HuffPost invites you to look at the latest figures, but especially its evolution on maps and curves. An important point to keep in mind before reading further: data is always published at night. Thus, the updated figures this Friday, December 24, are those published the day before, Thursday 23.
You should also know that these are not the figures for the day, but the D-1 figures for the number of hospitalizations and the number of new confirmed cases. For incidence and positivity rate, the screening figures in D-3 (as of the test date) are used.
National Covid-19 curves
On Thursday, December 23, the General Health Directorate identified 91,608 positive cases, approximately 50% more than a week earlier. If we look at the average evolution (more than 7 days), we see that the fifth wave is starting again, while we could expect that at the beginning of the week it has stabilized.
The D-1 figures are practical to follow the evolution of the epidemic as closely as possible, but are likely to vary from week to week depending on the speed of the results. To be sure of trends, it is best to look at the data published by Public Health France, which shows the number of cases on the date of detection, with a delay of three days.
The graphs below show this indicator, as well as other essential ones to follow the evolution of the epidemic. We see that if hospitalizations increase (although this could reach a ceiling), they progress less quickly than cases, especially thanks to vaccination. The positivity rate has been stagnant for a few days.
Meaning of the different indicators
- Incidence rate: it is the number of cases detected per 100,000 inhabitants. It is very useful, because it gives an inventory of the epidemic in almost real time (a few days delay for the appearance of symptoms, or even before their appearance for contact cases). But it depends on detection skills.
- Positivity rate: is the number of positive tests compared to the total number of tests performed. It allows you to “control” the incidence rate. If there are many cases in a territory (incidence rate), but this is only due to a highly developed screening, the positivity rate will be low. On the contrary, if it increases, it means that a greater proportion of people tested are positive, but above all that infected people who do not undergo the tests, who are left in oblivion, are potentially more numerous.
- Occupancy rate of resuscitation beds by Covid-19 patients: this is a highly analyzed figure, because it allows us to know if hospitals are capable of managing the influx of patients. It is very useful because there is little risk of bias: it does not depend on detection and bed occupancies are well reported to the authorities. Its disadvantage: there is a significant delay between contamination and transfer to intensive care, of about two to three weeks.
- Intensive care admissions and new hospitalizations: 7-day smoothed average of people admitted to hospital
- Death in hospital: Like resuscitations, this is a fairly reliable indicator, but with a significant delay.
- R effective: this indicator represents the real “virus reproduction rate”, that is, the number of people infected by a contagious case. It is calculated by epidemiologists and also has a significant delay.
As can be seen, most of the indicators are on the rise. But the most important thing is to understand how fast this evolution is or how much it decreases. Therefore, it is interesting to observe the evolution over a week, in percentage, of these figures:
The incidence rate continues to increase (purple bars are going up). And it seems that bad news is coming. While growth has been weak for nearly two weeks, this average tends to rise again. Clearly, the peak of this fifth wave that we expected is not there.
Regarding hospital indicators (which are estimated to be between 10 and 15 days behind in health indicators), the occupancy rate in intensive care has just crossed the 60% mark, if it is still lower than previous waves, the number of beds occupied is increasing every day. The threshold of 3000 patients in intensive care has been crossed. The same is true of hospitalizations, even if the rate of increase tends to decrease.
Map of the incidence rate by department
If we look at the evolution of the epidemic in a more local way, we see that the trend continues to rise, but that a decrease is being felt in certain metropolitan departments. They are a large half (in blue on the map) to see the indicator moving in the right direction. With marked differences between the territories, as can be seen in the map below that shows the evolution of the incidence rate over a week. However, we see that some departments (in red on the map) have seen incidence jump for a few days under the influence of the Omicron variant. Now it is almost the majority in Ile de France. The incidence rate of Covid-19 now stands at more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Paris. Or one in 100 Parisians tested positive in recent days.
In mainland France, all the departments are above the threshold of the incidence rate of 200. And now the figure of 1000 is reached in some departments of the southeast quarter. The maximum is reached in Paris.
The following chart allows you to analyze the situation in your department in more detail.
The Intensive Care Occupancy Rate Map
Regarding hospital indicators, the intensive care occupancy rate exceeds 50% in all regions except Brittany and Normandy. The tension begins to be clearly felt in Paca and Córcega where the bar of 90% of the beds occupied in sheaves has been crossed; Patient transfers have already been made.
A very effective vaccine, but one that slips
How to explain this fifth wave? It is difficult to say since the coronavirus manages to frustrate our forecasts, but we must remember that an increase was foreseeable, especially with the predominance of the Delta variant, which is much more contagious.
A controlled increase in the epidemic in the middle of winter, with limited measures (such as a health pass, wearing a mask, ventilating closed places, etc.), is only possible thanks to vaccination. If the vaccine does not protect 100%, it reduces the risk of infection and dramatically reduces the risk of developing a severe form of Covid-19.
Currently, more than 76% of the population is twice vaccinated, as can be seen in the following graph, with disparities between age groups.
But now we know that the effectiveness of the vaccine against infection decreases over time, especially six months after vaccination. Protection against severe forms of Covid-19 remains high, but still appears to be declining, especially in the elderly.
That is why many countries, including France, have launched a withdrawal campaign. In its forecast for the end of November, the Institut Pasteur estimates that a booster dose, by further reducing the risk of hospitalization for people at higher risk and reducing the risk of infection, can theoretically reduce the peak of hospitalizations. Therefore, a booster for those over 65 reduces peak height by 20%, while a booster for all adults reduces it by 44%.
The power of the Omicron variant makes this third dose even more essential, but only a third of the population has already received it.
The graph below gives a better idea of the progress of the booster injections:
Vaccines are still effective against Covid-19
The efficacy of vaccines and of the third dose is easily seen if we analyze the number of positive people vaccinated or not vaccinated, hospitalized or in intensive care.
However, you have to be careful: more than 91% of adults are vaccinated. So it makes sense that there are many vaccinated people in hospitals. But if we compare with equal numbers (how many hospitalized per million vaccinated, versus how many hospitalized per million unvaccinated), we can see that the vaccine is very effective.
Try the charts below. We also see that the booster further increases the effectiveness of the vaccine.
See also The HuffPost: Covid-19: Why are certain variants necessary and others not? (explained by video games)
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