The coronavirus, once again, plays the spoilsport of the end of the year. But he has changed his face. Under the mask of the Omicron variant, this new avatar of SARS-CoV-2 is spreading at breakneck speed. “In Ile-de-France, it now represents nearly half of new cases of infection”, notes Florence Débarre, specialist in evolutionary biology at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris.
“In a few days, this virus will be dominant in France”, indicated, Thursday, December 23, Jean-François Delfraissy, president of the scientific council Covid-19, which organized a press conference dedicated to this new public enemy number one. “On Wednesday, just over 84,000 new cases were declared in France. His progression is extremely rapid, especially among 20-29 year olds. In January, hundreds of thousands of new cases are expected a day ”, underlined Arnaud Fontanet, epidemiologist and member of the scientific council. On Thursday, the number of contaminations reached 91,608 new cases, a record.
Much more contagious than its cousin Alpha, present last winter, or even the Delta variant, already very transmissible and responsible for the fifth wave in Europe, Omicron retains a part of the mystery. The most acute question at this stage is its health and societal impact. “It’s a really different variant. We must remain cautious in both directions, without reassuring or worrying excessively “, estimates Florence Débarre. There is, in fact, a very high degree of uncertainty associated with this variant, underlined the scientific council.
The first uncertainty has an air of déjà vu: what will be the number of hospitalizations and serious illnesses caused by this variant in the coming weeks? The second is ” something new, observed Jean-François Delfraissy. From January, this variant could lead to a possible disorganization of the company. “ The increase in infections, work stoppages and absenteeism linked to the Omicron surge could, in fact, “Pose problems in the strategic sectors of our society: food distribution, safety, transport, communication and health”, listed Olivier Guérin, member of the scientific council.
Overview of what we know about this intruder who appears, it is true, at the worst time. Just after the peak of the Delta wave, still very high. And just before Christmas and the New Year… Will the aftermath of the holidays be bitter?
- An extremely transmissible variant
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