A situation described as “unprecedented” by Public Health France (SpF). France faces a triple epidemic “with the simultaneous circulation of Covid, bronchiolitis and influenza. Its evolution is still difficult to predict. The flu hits the metropolis early, adding to a Covid on the rise and to bronchiolitis at record levels for over a decade in infants. This situation hits an already strained health system.
“The situation is completely unprecedented” and filled with “uncertainties”, summarized Didier Che, deputy director for infectious diseases, during a press briefing from the public health agency. “In previous years, there were more respiratory viruses that followed one another: a first circulation of rhinoviruses gave way to RSVs (the main virus involved in bronchiolitis), which very generally gave way to the flu. There, we have co-circulations, ”detailed epidemiologist Sophie Vaux.
Strong impact on hospitals
This situation is “worrying” because the addition of these pathologies can lead to ” a fairly strong clinical impact, especially on hospitals,” she added. And this, even if these viruses do not affect “exactly the same populations”, flu and Covid affecting especially the oldest and most vulnerable, the bronchiolitis mainly infants. It is “difficult to predict the occurrence of the peaks” of the three epidemics, in particular a possible simultaneous peak of covid and flu, even bronchiolitis, at Christmas. One of the big unknowns is a possible competition between the influenza and Covid viruses which could make it difficult for them to coexist and limit the risk of simultaneous peaks.
“It still takes a little time to know if this notion of viral cannibalism is confirmed”, judged Didier Che for whom it is also “too early to draw conclusions from the American situation”. But, he insisted, France is “not yet completely helpless” 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 the fluwith the approach of the end of year celebrations with family gatherings conducive to the transmission of viruses. Barrier gestures (mask in closed places, hand washing, ventilation, etc.) are also strongly recommended.