The pandemic appears to be ebbing, but the situation remains mixed

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A virtual summit on the Covid pandemic will take place on May 12, co-chaired by the United States, Germany, currently at the head of the G7, Indonesia at the head of the G20, Senegal at the head of the Afrikaner Union and Belize, at the head of Caricom (Caribbean countries). This is the second meeting of its kind. The first took place last September at the initiative of US President Joe Biden, and strengthening immunization in the world was one of the central themes. On the agenda for this session: continued vaccination, but also the implementation of means to get out of the acute phase of the pandemic; for it is not over yet, even if it recedes on a planetary scale. Update on the situation.

The pandemic is declining, especially in Europe. The virus, in this case the sublineages Omicron -BA.1 and especially BA.2-, continues to circulate actively, but at a much lower level than just a few weeks ago; and many countries have eased restrictions, such as wearing masks.

On the planetary level, however, the situation is somewhat opposite. So China is facing an epidemic, Shanghai residents are locked up. Thanks to this, the country was spared for two years its Zero Covid strategy ; this is no longer the case, and Omicron’s strong contagiousness is being questioned. The situation in China is “sensitive,” says Arnaud Fontanet, director of the Department of Epidemiology of Emerging Diseases at the Pasteur Institute in Paris and professor at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts. According to him, ” the difficulty for China is that the vaccination level of the elderly, those over 60 and especially those over 80 is insufficient, and vaccines are of slightly lower quality than messenger RNA vaccines; this is the locally manufactured inactivated Sinovac vaccine. If they circulate the virus, they can have a very significant mortality rate. We saw it in Hong Kong in March 2022: when BA.2 passed there they had a wave as deadly as the first wave that Europe experienced in March 2020 due to an under-vaccinated elderly population ‘ he emphasizes.

The location ofSouth Africa is also being followed closely by professionals, especially since in a few weeks or months it could be that of other countries in the world. Two new sublineages of Omicron were discovered there,

BA.4 and BA.5 and cause rebound. ” This new wave leads to a fairly significant increase in the number of cases, a less significant impact on hospitals, which, according to Professor Fontanet, is not necessarily due to the fact that these subvariants are less serious than the previous ones, but that they are then come, that there is an additional layer of population immunity as South Africa had a fairly large BA.1 wave last December. If you accumulate infections or vaccinations, you build up your immunity, especially against severe forms. ‘ says the scientist.

also read : Vigilance remains in the face of new sub-variants of Covid-19

As we can see, the pandemic is not over and to limit its impact, vaccination is an important weapon. Inequalities persist around the world. In many rich countries about 80% of the population is vaccinated, while in low-income countries about 15% have received at least one vaccination (in some countries like Chad or Cameroon this rate is 5%, in the DRC less than 1% acc Africa CDC) despite the Covax device set up to help them; far from the WHO target of reaching 70% of the population everywhere by July 2022.

For several months, however, the lack of doses has no longer been an obstacle, emphasizes Dr. Emmanuel Baron, director of Epicenter, the research and epidemiology group of the NGO Doctors Without Borders. ” Since late 2021, many vaccines have arrived, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, sometimes in a bit of a mess, with short expiry times. But the problem is the ability to use them rather than the ability to have them takes over Emmanuel Baron. In order to vaccinate, all the logistics have to be in place, transportation, storage, etc. and that’s a problem he notices. Another obstacle: the sometimes weak cohesion of the populations. ” The reasons are varied: disinformation, but also quite simply the fact that the epidemic has not hit a large part of the population very brutally because the population in sub-Saharan Africa is very young.. »

If we know today – through studies – that the coronavirus is actively circulating in sub-Saharan Africa and, as elsewhere, is causing significant excess mortality among the elderly (and very likely among the frail), the youth of the population explains why there have been fewer severe cases .

And there are voices, like that of Emmanuel Baron, questioning the WHO’s goal of vaccinating very widely, regardless of the country’s situation. “ This requires the mobilization of enormous resources that are limited, a lot of human resources and energy, while these countries are faced with other scourges that have also worsened during the pandemic: malaria, tuberculosis, etc. emphasizes Emmanuel Baron, who advocates taking better account of the needs of these countries. “In any case, it is certain that we must vaccinate vulnerable people against Covid and remain reactive because the pandemic is not over. ‘ he concludes.

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