Europe is currently experiencing a seventh wave of COVID-19, which is largely explained by the new variants’ immune escape, i.e. a strong ability to withstand the protection provided by vaccination and previous infections.
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In Quebec, the increase is not yet as strong, but the number of cases and hospital admissions has also recovered in recent weeks (see below).
A relaxation of hygiene measures is possible, but also a decrease in immunity.
“People who contracted Omicron BA.1 in December are less well protected than at the beginning of the year,” Samuel Alizon, head of research at the French research center CNRS, told AFP.
“The same applies to the immunity conferred by vaccines: although it remains very robust against severe forms, it weakens somewhat against less severe infections,” he adds.
Omicron subvariants involved
According to the scientists, this new wave in Europe can also be explained by the progression of new subvariants of Omicron, BA.4 and especially BA.5.
Despite an increase in COVID-19 cases in Europe, famous nightclubs in Ibiza, Spain, like Pacha here, reopened in mid-June after being closed for more than two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In France, according to the latest Public Health France bulletin, a gradual replacement of BA.2 with an increase in the detection of BA has been observed for several weeks. 5 (41%) and BA. 4 (6%) in the week of June 13-19.
These subvariants spread all the faster as they seem to benefit from a dual advantage of contagiousness and immune evasion, ie a strong ability to evade the immune response.
For a long time it was thought that an infection took the place of protection, at least temporarily. However, this does not appear to be the case with the Omicron family, according to a study by Imperial College published in mid-June Science.
Scientists analyzed blood samples from more than 700 healthcare workers in the UK. All had received three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and had been infected with the historical strain or variants.
Increase the level of protection
“We’re faced with highly contagious variants that are a bit like stealth agents that go under the immune system’s radar; It’s a real complexity of the Omicron band,” underlined Gilles Pialoux, service manager at the Tenon Hospital in Paris, last week.
These “very contagious” variants require the level of protection to be increased for the most vulnerable, he added.
For most European countries, getting a second booster shot is a top priority for the elderly and immunocompromised.
– With Pascal Dugas Bourdon, agency QMI
THE NUMBER OF CASES HAS DOUBLED
The number of listed cases has almost doubled in Quebec since the beginning of the month. The Department of Health reported around 1,000 cases on Monday, compared with around 550 new cases on March 1ah last June. During the same period, the test positivity rate increased from 7.0% to 11.6%. Remember that only “priority people” can go to the screening center, especially healthcare workers.
TEN TIMES MORE THAN LAST YEAR
The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 has also been increasing for several weeks. It went from 1105 on the 1stah June to 1226 on June 27, up 11%. This number is almost ten times higher than last year (124). In the intensive care unit, the number of patients has increased from 24 to 36 since the beginning of the month, up from 31 last year. Note that more than half of the positive patients were admitted for a reason other than COVID-19.
STABLE DEATH NUMBER
The number of deaths from the disease has been stable since the beginning of the month. 1ah As of June 1st, Quebec was averaging 4 deaths per day, while on June 17th the moving average was three deaths. This time last year, public health was reporting about two deaths a day. It should be noted that older people are always the hardest hit: last May, 84% of the dead infected with the coronavirus were aged 70 or older.
THE FOURTH CAN AT IDLE
The delivery of a fourth dose of vaccine has slowed significantly over the past month. Currently, about 2,000 fourth doses are being injected daily, compared to about 5,500 doses per day for the week of May 22. Only 15% of the Quebec population has received the fourth dose (or second booster) that adults can receive three months after their third dose. Earlier in May, the national director of public health, Luc Boileau, had suggested that waiting until the end of the summer before receiving that dose was “a perfectly valid course of action”, even “a good idea”.
– Pascal Dugas Bourdon, QMI Agency