LWith the simultaneous spread of Covid, bronchitis and influenza, the “triple pandemic” that France is facing is “absolutely unprecedented” and its evolution is still difficult to predict, Public Health France underlined on Friday.
The flu is hitting the metropolis early, adding to the rapid rise in Covid and bronchitis among children at record levels in more than 10 years. This situation affects the already tested health care system in other countries, especially in the United States.
“The situation is completely unprecedented” and full of “uncertainties,” Didier Che, deputy director for infectious diseases at the public health agency, summarized during a press conference. “In previous years, respiratory viruses followed each other: the first cycle of rhinoviruses led to RSVs (the main virus of bronchitis, editor’s note), which usually led to influenza. There, we have parallel cycles,” detailed epidemiologist Sophie Vaux.
Return of prohibition gestures
This situation is “worrisome” because the inclusion of these pathologies “could lead to a very strong clinical impact, especially in hospitals”, he added. Also, while these viruses “don’t affect exactly the same population,” flu and Covid mainly affect the elderly and the most vulnerable, bronchitis mainly affects children. “It is difficult to predict the occurrence of peaks” of the three pandemics, especially the simultaneous peaks of Covid and flu or bronchitis, at Christmas.
A potential competition between influenza and Covid viruses is a big unknown, which could make it difficult for them to coexist and limit the risk of simultaneous peaks. “It will be a while before we know whether this notion of viral cannibalism is confirmed,” Mr. Che ruled that it was “too early to draw conclusions from the American situation.” But, he stressed, France is “not yet completely helpless” and has a “preventive arsenal” to face these three pandemics.
Public health France has emphasized vaccination against Covid and flu more than ever, as year-end celebrations approach with family gatherings conducive to the spread of viruses. Prohibitive gestures (masking, hand washing, ventilation etc. in closed spaces) are strongly recommended.
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