The “triple epidemic” facing France, with the simultaneous circulation of Covid, bronchiolitis and influenza, is “totally unprecedented” and its evolution is still difficult to predict, Public Health France stressed on Friday.
As a reminder: the flu comes to town early, adding to a rapid rise in Covid and bronchiolitis at record levels for over 10 years in infants. This situation hits an already proven health system, as in other countries, particularly the United States.
A “fairly strong clinical impact”
“The situation is unprecedented” and full of “uncertainties,” summarized Didier Che, deputy director of infectious diseases, during a press conference by the public health agency.
“In previous years there were more of respiratory viruses that followed one another: a first circulation of rhinoviruses gave way to RSV (main virus implicated in bronchiolitis, Ed), which, very generally, left no to the flu. There we have co-circulations ”, explained the epidemiologist Sophie Vaux.
This situation is “worrying” because the sum of these pathologies can generate “a fairly strong clinical impact, especially in hospitals,” he added.
And that, although these viruses do not affect “exactly the same populations.” The flu and Covid mainly affect the elderly and most vulnerable, bronchiolitis mainly infants.
France “not completely defenseless”
It is also “difficult to predict the occurrence of the peaks” of the three epidemics, in particular a possible simultaneous peak of Covid and flu, or even bronchiolitis, at Christmas.
One of the big unknowns is a possible competition between the flu viruses and Covid that could make it difficult for them to coexist and limit the risk of simultaneous spikes. “It still takes a little time to know if this notion of viral cannibalism is confirmed,” said Didier Che, for whom it is also “too early to draw conclusions about the American situation.”
But, he insisted, France “is not yet completely defenseless” and has “a preventive arsenal” in the face of this triple epidemic.
Public Health France has insisted more than ever on vaccination against Covid, but also against flu, especially as the end of the year celebrations approach with family gatherings conducive to virus transmission.
If this is rare, it is also not impossible to be contaminated by several viruses at the same time. Beginnings of November, the National Academy of Medicine had alerted about this risk of “viral co-infections”. Therefore, the health authorities always strongly recommend barrier gestures (mask in closed places, hand washing, ventilation, etc.).
Source: BFM TV