January 25, 2022

The Covid figures and maps in France as of December 24, 2021

COVID-19 – Omicron variant makes Europe shudder. To face it, the Netherlands confine their population until January 14. Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Belgium and Denmark, are tightening the restrictions. On the Spanish side, the mask is once again compulsory outdoors, and a curfew has been put in place in Catalonia, from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m., except on Christmas Eve.

Hope all the same with two British studies published this Wednesday, December 22. They confirm that the Omicron variant would cause fewer hospitalizations than Delta. But scientists say “the risk of infection remains extremely high” and this variant could cause more severe cases.

To fully understand where France is facing the Covid-19, The HuffPost invites you to look at the latest figures, but especially their evolution in maps and curves. An important point to keep in mind before reading further: the data is always published in the evening. Thus, the figures up to date this Friday December 24 are those published the day before, Thursday 23.

You should also know that these are not the figures for the day, but those on D-1 for the number of hospitalizations and the number of new confirmed cases. For the incidence and the positivity rate, the screening figures on D-3 (on the date of the test) are used.

National Covid-19 curves

Thursday 23 December, the Directorate General of Health has identified 91,608 positive cases, that’s about 50% more than a week earlier. If we look at the average evolution (over 7 days), we see that the fifth wave starts again with a vengeance, whereas we could hope at the beginning of the week to have reached a plateau.

The figures on D-1 are practical for following the evolution of the epidemic as closely as possible, but are likely to vary from one week to another depending on the speed of the results. To be sure of the trends, it is best to look at the data published by Public Health France, which shows the number of cases on the date of screening, with a delay of three days.

The graphs below show this indicator, as well as other essentials to follow the evolution of the epidemic. We see that if hospitalizations increase (although this could reach a ceiling), they progress less quickly than the cases, in particular thanks to the vaccination. The positivity rate has stagnated for a few days.

Meaning of the different indicators

  • Incidence rate: this is the number of cases detected per 100,000 inhabitants. It is very useful, because it gives an inventory of the epidemic in near real time (a few days delay for the appearance of symptoms, or even before their appearance for contact cases). But it is dependent on the screening skills.
  • Positivity rate: it is the number of positive tests compared to the total tests carried out. It makes it possible to “control” the incidence rate. If there are many cases in a territory (incidence rate), but this is only due to highly developed screening, the positivity rate will be low. Conversely, if it increases, it means that a greater proportion of people tested are positive, but above all that the infected people who are not tested, who fall through the cracks, are potentially more numerous.
  • Resuscitation bed occupancy rate by Covid-19 patients: It is a figure scrutinized, because it allows to know if the hospitals are able to manage the influx of patients. It is very useful, because there is little risk of bias: it does not depend on screening and bed occupations are well reported to the authorities. Its disadvantage: there is a significant delay between contamination and going to intensive care, of about two to three weeks.
  • Intensive care admissions and new hospitalizations: smoothed average over 7 days of people entering the hospital
  • Death in hospital: Like resuscitations, it is a fairly reliable indicator, but with a significant delay.
  • R effective: this indicator represents the real “virus reproduction rate”, ie the number of people infected by a contagious case. It is calculated by epidemiologists and also has a significant delay.

As we can see, most indicators are on the rise. But the most important thing is to understand how fast this evolution is or how much it decreases. For that, it is interesting to look at the evolution over a week, in percentage, of these figures:

The incidence rate is still increasing (purple bars are climbing upwards). And bad news seems to be coming. While growth had weakened for nearly two weeks, this average is tending to rise again. Clearly, the peak of this 5th wave that we were hoping for is not there.

Regarding hospital indicators (which are estimated to have between 10 and 15 days lag on health indicators), the intensive care occupancy rate has just crossed the 60% mark, if it remains lower than previous waves, the number of occupied beds is increasing every day. The threshold of 3,000 patients in critical care has been crossed. The same goes for hospitalizations even if the rate of increase tends to be reduced.

Map of the incidence rate by department

If we look at the evolution of the epidemic in a more local way, we see that the trend is still on the rise, but that a decrease is being felt in certain metropolitan departments. They are a big half (in blue on the map) to see the indicator moving in the right direction. With marked differences between the territories, as can be seen on the map below which shows the evolution of the incidence rate over one week. However, we see that some departments (in red on the map) have seen the incidence jump for a few days under the influence of the Omicron variant. It is now almost in the majority in Ile de France. The incidence rate of Covid-19 now stands at more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Paris. Or one in 100 Parisians tested positive in recent days.

In France, all departments are beyond the 200 incidence rate threshold. And the figure of 1000 is now reached in some departments of the south-eastern quarter. The maximum is reached in Paris.

The graph below allows you to analyze the situation in your department in more detail.

The intensive care occupancy rate map

As for hospital indicators, the intensive care occupancy rate is now over 50% in all regions except Brittany and Normandy. The tension begins to be clearly felt in Paca and Corsica where the barrier of 90% of beds occupied in sheaves has been crossed; patient transfers have already taken place.

A very effective vaccination, but which slips

How to explain this fifth wave? Difficult to say as the coronavirus succeeds in thwarting our forecasts, but we must already remember that an increase was foreseeable, especially with the dominance of the Delta variant, much more contagious.

A controlled increase in the epidemic in the middle of winter, with limited measures (such as the health pass, wearing a mask, ventilating enclosed places, etc.), is only possible thanks to vaccination. If the vaccine does not protect 100%, it reduces the risk of infection and drastically lowers the risk of developing a severe form of Covid-19.

Today, more than 76% of the population is doubly vaccinated, as can be seen in the graphic below, with disparities between age groups.

But we now know that the effectiveness of the vaccine against infection declines over time, especially six months after vaccination. Protection against severe forms of Covid-19 remains high, but still seems to be decreasing, especially in the elderly.

This is why many countries, including France, have launched a recall campaign. In its forecasts for the end of November, the Institut Pasteur estimates that a booster dose, by further reducing the risk of hospitalization of those most at risk and by reducing the risk of being infected, can lower the peak of hospitalizations in theory. Thus, a booster for those over 65 reduces the height of the peak by 20%, while a booster for all adults causes it to drop by 44%.

The fulgurance of the Omicron variant makes this third dose even more essential but barely a third of the population has already received it.

The following graph gives a better idea of ​​the progress of the booster injections:

Vaccines still effective in the face of Covid-19

The effectiveness of the vaccines and the third dose is easily seen if we analyze the number of vaccinated or unvaccinated positive people, hospitalized or in intensive care.

However, we must be careful: more than 91% of adults are vaccinated. So it makes sense that there are a lot of people vaccinated in hospitals. But if we compare with equal numbers (how many hospitalized for a million vaccinated, versus how many hospitalized for a million unvaccinated), we can see that the vaccine is very effective.

The proof with the graphics below. We also see that the booster further increases the effectiveness of the vaccine.

See also on The HuffPost: Covid-19: Why are some variants necessary and others not? (explained by video games)