Covid: evolution of the epidemic, Institut Pasteur’s predictions for this summer

Published by Laurent P. · Published on 28 April 2021 at 12h38 · Updated on 28 April 2021 at 14h41
How could the Covid epidemic evolve this summer? A question the Institut Pasteur tried to answer to as the institution issued this Monday April 26 their projections for this summer. Hypotheses making us fear a "major increase in hospitalizations (...) in case curbing measures are lifted too quickly on May 15". And to keep things to return to normal, on certain conditions, by Fall.

How could the epidemic evolve by the summer? A question many French people have and to which the Institut Pasteur tried to answer with several projections revealed this Monday April 26. They are particularly clear: "In case curbing measures are lifted too quickly on May 15, even in optimistic hypotheses about the vaccination pace" a "major increase in hospitalizations could be noticed", about 2,000 to 3,000 hospitalizations per day, the institute scientists say.

Projections taking many factors into account including the impact of measures currently instated, the lockdown exit pace, the vaccination campaign and even the impact of the UK variant in the country. "These scenarios are not predictions" the Institut Pasteur added. And to add: "tracjectories described depend on hypotheses made; if they do not happen, the dynamic observed could be different from projections", searchers warn at the beginning of the document.

Among these projections, more optimistic scenarios like the one the UK variant is only 40% more contagious, and where hospitalizations are lower, 500 to 1,500 admissions per day. "A more progressive easing of these measures could enable to delay the recovery to some time when the vaccination campaign had improved, decreasing the intensity of the recovery", searchers explain. And they also speak about a decrease that could be noticed from May 1: "The overall model antiicpates a decrease in hospital admissions, although some individual models are more expected to reach a plateau", they explain.

Projections that still need to be reviewed, the Institut Pasteur wishing to remain cautious on the different scenarios raised. "It's hard to quantify the impact of the climate on the transmission", the institution says. They precise - as for vaccination - that "projections will be deteriorated if we do not succeed in meeting these goals".

Life to get back to normal starting this Fall - according to projections

Projections revealed several days after pther predictions from the Institut Pasteur, on things to return back to normal and the end of the crisis. Is France to soon reach the end of the tunnel and exit the Covid crisis? Of course, according to many scientists and doctors thinking life is to get back to normal between the summer and the Fall 2021. As for Institut Pasteur, this Tuesday April 6, they even go further in a study featuring several likely crisis-exit scenarios, depending on the vaccination level. And their predictions are clear: to life to really get back to normal this Fall, vaccination must reach a very high rate.

Therefore, according to Institut Pasteur forecasts, vaccinating 90% of people aged 65+ and 70% of people between 18 and 64 years of age is not enough to let go of the health guidelines by the Fall. Because of the UK variant – far more contagious – that, according to the Institut, makes the R-0 increase to 4 this Fall, which is well-above the threshold reached when the first wave peaked in March 2020. Also, because the low immunization rate only involves 20% of the French. Predictions that go all the way up to establishing the number of daily hospitalizations and suggest there will be over 1,000 of them.

Even in the most optimistic scenarios, the current vaccination intentions of the French population could not enable making controlling measures completely softer. If possible, vaccinating children could help reach this goal”, Institut Pasteur explains. Yet, despite this scenario, living under a cover with lockdown and curfew would no longer be useful: “it would be necessary to keep controlling measures and reduce the transmission rates in the overall population by 15-27% compared to the scenario of lifting measures. As a comparison, during the March-May 2020 lockdown, the transmission rates have been cut off by 80%”, scientists continue.

What about herd immunity? It remains reachable, the Institut thinks. “If the vaccination campaign only applies to the adult population, for R0=4, it would be necessary that over 90% of adults be vaccinated to consider lifting controlling restrictions”, the scientists explain. And if vaccines are effective and safe for children, these data could be reviewed downwards: “vaccinating 0-64-year-old by 60-69% and 65+ by 90%” would enable to reach the goal. A major stake then for the government that must convince as many people as possible to get vaccinated.

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