“We can still have waves linked to the emergence of new variants”, warns infectious disease specialist Anne-Claude Crémieux

“We are in a transition phase, where we can still have waves linked to the emergence of new variants” of the coronavirus, alert Monday, October 24 on franceinfo Anne-Claude Crémieux, member of the National Academy of Medicine and professor of infectious diseases at Saint-Louis hospital in Paris. Since September, France has entered the eighth wave of this pandemic. 59,216 new cases of contamination were detected on October 18 and 54,688,790 people were fully vaccinated on October 20.

>> INFOGRAPHICS. Covid-19: where is the eighth wave of the epidemic, which seems to have reached its peak of contamination?

The infectiologist explains that it would be necessary “to have a balance between this virus and the immunity of the population”. The immunity of the population would then be, according to Anne-Claude Crémieux, “sufficient to avoid or in any case significantly minimize the severe forms”.

franceinfo: We are currently in France in the eighth wave of the Covid-19 epidemic with 50,000 cases per day and 2 million patients since the start of the school year. Are we wrong to hardly talk about it anymore?

Anne-Claude Cremieux: It’s definitely a bit early. We are still in a very unstable situation, we cannot say that we are in a normalized situation. We have experienced seven pandemic waves, carried by variants that gave reinfections in populations that were not sufficiently immunized. We are in a transition phase, where we can still have waves linked to the emergence of new variants. What we would like to have is a balance between this virus and the immunity of the population. We would then really be at the endemic stage, the immunity of the population would be sufficient to avoid or in any case significantly minimize the severe forms.

Were we wrong, in your opinion, to point the finger at the French who hesitated to be vaccinated with the new vaccines, those with messenger RNA?

I think that indeed we have confused hesitation and opposition. 40% of French people wanted to be vaccinated in December 2020 and we rose to almost more than 80% in July. At first, the French hesitate: it’s new, it’s a vaccine. Then, as we go along, we show that this vaccine is well tolerated, that it has passed all the stages of the evaluation of efficacy and harmlessness, and people see around them vaccinated people who wear well. The French, seeing the danger of the coronavirus, will therefore adapt and be vaccinated.

Last year, the former Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn was indicted by the Court of Justice of the Republic and last week the former Prime Minister Édouard Philippe was placed under the status of witness assisted in their management of the Covid. Do you think it is normal for politicians to be accountable to justice?

This crisis is extremely instructive because we have seen that the same mistakes have been made, often with a week’s delay, by all Western leaders. They sought to reassure, they minimized the danger and they took decisions late. They also got the strategy wrong: they copied this new crisis, a strategy they had prepared, namely the flu pandemic plan. That’s how we got it wrong and didn’t try to stop the virus.

“It is not individuals who are at fault, but systems.”

Anne-Claude Crémieux, infectiologist

at franceinfo

If we really want to learn the lessons of this crisis, it is not by accusing individuals, it is by understanding why each time we make the same mistakes.

In your book, Citizens have the right to know (Fayard editions), you believe that we should not throw stones at the former government spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye who explained in March 2020 that it was not necessary to wear the mask if we were not sick.

In this debate, two dimensions have intertwined. The first dimension is political, it is the absence of stock. This political error was widely analyzed by the Senate inquiry committee. In 2009, we had a billion surgical masks and 700 million FFP2 masks and we ended up [en 2020] with almost empty stocks. This can be explained by the criticisms that were made after the H1N1 crisis. France, which was the most armed country to deal with a crisis in mask stocks, has disarmed itself. What we could blame the government for here is this habitual tendency not to really admit its mistakes, not to say that the stocks were insufficient and probably also the fear of worrying the population by saying that it there were no masks. There was also a scientific dimension. WHO experts denied for several months, even a year, that aerosols could carry the infectious particles at a distance. This presence of aerosols is the main reason why it is important to wear a mask in a closed environment.

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