6:30 p.m., December 13, 2021, modified at 6:32 p.m., December 13, 2021
Denmark and the United Kingdom, two states known for their sequencing capacity, are currently the most affected in Europe by the Omicron variant. France is almost at the peak of its wave caused by the Delta variant (with an incidence rate of over 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants). About 60 cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in our country. This morning on RTL, the director general of Public Assistance – Paris Hospitals (AP-HP), Martin Hirsch, however mentioned a possible “sixth wave” of Covid-19 in “January” because of the new variant. The British and Danish cases can in any case foreshadow what could happen in France in the coming weeks. Here is what we can learn from these two examples.
A number of cases doubling every 2-3 days in the UK
According to the British health agency, the number of infections linked to the Omicron variant doubles every 2-3 days. A speed of contagion never seen since the start of the health crisis. As of December 13, 1,576 cases were reported in the UK, up from 90 cases a week earlier. In all, there are 4,700 contaminations due to the Omicron variant but the actual number of cases could be much higher. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of an “Omicron tidal wave” on Sunday.
This epidemic of the Omicron variant is superimposed on the already existing one linked to the Delta variant. Thus, the number of cases is on the rise in the country to levels more reached since January 2021. More than 50,000 cases are thus reported every day on average.
If we do not yet know precisely the dangerousness of the Omicron variant and its ability to cause serious forms, the authorities are worried about a wave of cases stronger than the previous ones which could eventually overwhelm hospitals, even if the variant s’ was less dangerous.
It may seem counterintuitive to you, but at the scale of a society, a more contagious variant is of much greater concern than a more lethal variant.
The more contagious variant will affect so many more people that it will ultimately cause more victims.
(Credit : @AdamJKucharski) https://t.co/jM1HxUSu9qpic.twitter.com/OmXZhC9Br1
— XXI ⚪️ ⚪️ (@Locuste_) December 13, 2021
“Unfortunately, Omicron generates hospitalizations and it has been confirmed that at least one patient has died from Omicron,” Boris Johnson said Monday. “The idea that this is sort of a less virulent version of the virus, I think it’s something that we have to rule out and recognize that the rate at which (its spread) is accelerating among the population . ”
Detected in the United Kingdom at the end of November, Omicron already represents 40% of contaminations in London and could soon become the dominant variant in the country.
In Denmark, 2,471 cases of Omicron have been identified. The number of contaminations is also rising very quickly in this kingdom of 5.8 million inhabitants. 581 cases were reported on December 7 compared to 25 a week earlier.
The variant could be dominant this week in Denmark.
Denmark’s @SSI_dk just released a new risk assessment on #omicron.
It estimates that #omicron will become the dominant variant in Copenhagen this week with more than 10,000 cases per day expected – an all-time pandemic high.https://t.co/onqFOsSShVpic.twitter.com/7w8RIlTzjM
— Kai Kupferschmidt (@kakape) December 13, 2021
According to official figures, 27 people are also hospitalized due to this variant.
In Denmark, the number of cases is the highest since the start of the crisis but not the mortality. This can be explained by the delay of several weeks between contamination and death due to Covid-19 but also by the effectiveness of vaccines against severe forms of the virus.
The same strategy: accelerate the administration of booster doses
Faced with the emergence of the Omicron variant, the two countries have chosen the same strategy: to accelerate the administration of the booster dose. A race against time is underway. Boris Johnson has brought forward by one month the goal of offering a booster shot to everyone over 18 in England, who will theoretically now be able to benefit from it before the New Year. The goal is to double the number of third doses offered at around 1 million per day.
On Monday, very long lines had formed outside some vaccination centers, as the public health service (NHS) booking site was overwhelmed with demand.
Test yourself regularly.. and book a booster.. pic.twitter.com/2oId8I8DGk
— Ciaran Jenkins (@C4Ciaran) December 13, 2021
According to preliminary data, two doses of vaccine are considered insufficient to provide a good level of protection against the Omicron variant, but three doses suggest adequate protection against infections, in the order of 70-75%.
More than 23 million Britons have already received a booster dose, or 36% of the population and 75% of Britons have received at least one dose of the vaccine. In France, 15 million people have had their booster dose (22% of the population) and the goal is to reach 20 million people by Christmas. About 77% of French people received a first dose of the vaccine.
Denmark, for its part, has decided to anticipate the booster dose of anti-Covid vaccines for all over 40 years old. “Because of the new, more contagious variant Omicron, the Danish health authorities have decided to advance the third dose for all people aged 40 and over, so that they receive the vaccine four and a half months after their second dose,” announced the National Health Agency. The 18-39 year olds are also called to receive an additional dose but 5 and a half months after their vaccination. The delay is 5 months in France for the entire population. About 1.2 million Danes have already received a booster dose, or 21% of the population. The Danish authorities are counting on 1.5 million more doses administered by the New Year.
Danish data show that 75% of those infected with the Omicron variant were vaccinated with a complete regimen. In the country, 80% of the population has obtained at least one dose of the vaccine.
Other measures have also been put in place. Denmark introduced new restrictions last week with the closure of schools and colleges, reduced nightlife and the spread of teleworking. Boris Johnson insisted on teleworking and wearing a mask in almost all closed places.