Covid-19: how did the third confinement become “avoidable”?



France maintains the status quo on the anti-Covid front. “The situation remains so fragile that nothing can tip it”, certainly warned Gabriel Attal on February 17, at the exit of the health defense council, but the government spokesman above all confirmed that no additional restrictions would be introduced by the executive. Even less third confinement.

→ ANALYSIS. Covid-19: why the executive backed down in the face of confinement

Seriously considered in January when the variants threatened to overthrow a ” tray “ already high, a new placing in a bell is today considered avoidable. “It is possible that we will never be reconfined”, assured the Minister of Health Olivier Véran, on February 9, two weeks after having predicted the contrary. In the meantime, the French have shown a “Very great responsibility” and “Knew how to defeat the forecasts”, greeted Gabriel Attal.

The epidemic curves, however, draw a situation that is not more serene than a month ago. Contamination is above the 20,000 daily case mark (25,018 on February 17), the intensive care services are more in demand (3,350 patients against 2,776 on January 17) and the national incidence rate is also high : 190 positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants. All marked by a greater penetration of variants, the “British” causing at least 20 to 25% of contaminations. You’re welcome “Cry victory », Analyzes the government.

“No third wave, but a rising tide”

But the choice not to confine would have made followers among hospital workers in recent weeks. President of the Conference of Presidents of the Establishment Medical Commission (CME), François-René Pruvot surveyed his network of 30 CHUs. On January 25, three-quarters of CME officials interviewed said they were in favor of confinement. In mid-February, they were only seven (out of 27 responses) to wish it.

“The government’s authoritarian measures are almost as effective as confinement”, observes the surgeon of the Lille University Hospital, where 30 Covid-19 patients occupy the resuscitation beds against 90 at the height of the crisis of autumn 2020. In a note dated February 16, the Directorate General of Health ( DGS) warns however on a “Worrying epidemic situation” and an ” evolution [qui] raises fears of a homogeneous level of saturation of the healthcare offer for the care of Covid patients but also non-Covid patients across the country ”.

→ THE FACTS. Covid-19: Moselle is not yet re-fining

Nothing“Alarmist”, repeats François-René Pruvot, who unrolls the “Maritime metaphor” to describe the “Pressure” of SARS-CoV-2 on hospitals: “There is no third wave. Even in Moselle, it is rather a ripple. But we are witnessing a rising tide and a choppy water which is maintained at the level of our knees. “

Two “difficult” months before the lull?

Doctors who advocated a third confinement in January would they have sinned by defeatism? “The models confirm what we were saying at the time: at the end of February-beginning of March, the variant will be dominant and will give its tempo to the epidemic, encapsulates the epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux. We will not avoid a third wave. It won’t have a dramatic slope, but it will do a lot of damage. “

STORY. How the pandemic changed their lives

For the head of the parasitology department of the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital (Paris), by choosing the “High way”, the executive condemns itself to “Difficult months of March and April”, before the lull, “Linked to more favorable climatic conditions and a large number of immune people. Simply, we could have slowed down the epidemic before. ”

While waiting for the good days and the rise in vaccine power, many scientists and health professionals are calling for no new restrictions to be decided on the sole light of epidemic data. “Containment is effective, but in what state would we leave the country? questions Yves Buisson, epidemiologist and president of the Covid-19 group at the National Academy of Medicine. In the spring of 2020, we didn’t know what to expect. But now the cost-benefit evaluation is quickly done: the economic, social and psychological consequences would be appalling. “

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