“We must ensure that children are vaccinated” – liberation

The Covid-19 pandemic in Francedossier

In view of the renewed increase in Covid-19 contamination, the President of the Council points out in particular the need to vaccinate the youngest in order to align the vaccination strategy.

Reinfections, increase in contaminations with subvariant BA.2, 4th dose for the most sensitive, new vaccines… The list of twists and turns of the pandemic is getting longer and longer. And since the beginning of the month, the contamination has been increasing again. Asked by releaseAlain Fischer, Chair of the Vaccine Strategy Guidance Council, gives an overview of the situation in France.

The number of contaminated and infected people admitted to the intensive care unit is increasing. Should we already be talking about a 6th Covid wave or can we still assume that this is a simple epidemic backlash?

It all depends on the importance of the rebound or wave. There was a drop in the last Omicron wave. But for the past three or four weeks we’ve been observing an increase again, which is essentially due to the BA.2 variant. Do you call that a wave or a rebound? It doesn’t matter what matters is what it means. And today we know that this variant is not more aggressive than BA.1, but that it is more contagious. BA.2 is responsible for the significant increase in cases and the currently relatively small increase in hospitalizations. At the moment, all viewers are affected, especially children. Fortunately for most people, this does not have serious consequences, but unfortunately it can result in hospital admissions to critical care or even death in the frail or elderly. Some of them are not necessarily fully vaccinated, so even if the virus is less virulent than the previous ones, it is difficult.

The booster dose is open to all adults over the age of 18, many of whom have received it since November 27th. Is it still effective?

At omicron we know that vaccination protects against severe forms and to a lesser extent against infection for several months. But the duration of effectiveness depends on the person. Because the disease is more severe in older people, for whom the vaccination is also less effective. Therefore, the duration and quality of protection are lower in the oldest people. For this reason, it has been recommended for a few weeks to offer a second reminder. [une 4e dose, ndlr] to people over 80 because they are the most vulnerable people, apart from very severely immunocompromised people for whom additional booster recommendations have already been made. Then there is a permanent recommendation: people who have not yet had their first reminder [3e dose, ndlr], about 3 or 4 million in France have their recall. And then there’s an ongoing consideration as to whether people in their 60s and 80s need a 4th dose too. This has already been implemented in some countries. The question is being studied in France, but only for older people, since we can assume that those under 60 who have had a recall have protection against severe forms, which at the moment is still very good.

The Moderna laboratory has announced that it intends to seek approval for its vaccine for children aged 6 months to 6 years. Is it desirable to offer these vaccines to children under 5 knowing that in France only 2.5% of 5-9 year olds and 7.5% of 10-11 year olds are fully vaccinated against Covid?

The first problem is to ensure that children aged 5 to 11 are vaccinated, as this is currently a failure in France. Only 10% of frail children, who are more likely to develop severe forms, received the vaccine. The immediate goal would be to make it clear, first to doctors and then to families, that it is worth getting your child vaccinated between the ages of 5 and 11, that there is no risk and that this vaccine is effective even if children are The Omicron variant is much less endangered than adults, but is very contagious in children, and there are still forms that require hospitalization. Certainly not in very large numbers, but it still accounts for a few hundred hospitalizations. It also encourages the spread of the virus in schools, it leads to class closures, and children are likely to infect their grandparents as well. It would be nice if this could be avoided thanks to the much more widespread vaccination of children in neighboring countries.

On Tuesday, the European Medicines Agency said Spanish laboratory Hipra’s vaccine appears to be effective against the Omicron variant. What do we know about the development of these new vaccines?

The current vaccine is effective against the Omicron variant. For this you must have received the basic vaccination, ie the first two vaccinations, then the booster vaccination. And with this vaccination schedule we have a protection level of over 90% against severe forms. Furthermore, according to the experimental data, it is not at all obvious that a vaccine targeting Omicron’s “spike” protein would be more effective than the others. Considering the risk of the emergence of new variants whose nature we do not know, for the future it is envisaged to use vaccines such as that of Hipra, which combine several spikes in order to cover the spectrum of viruses more broadly and increase the chances that this future vaccine will be be effective for each variant. But a priori it will not happen before the fall. At this point we can hope that the summer has passed quietly and that we may be able to offer those at risk a booster dose of this type of vaccine.

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