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“If we had been able to anticipate a few weeks, we might not be here”

INTERVIEWShould it be reconfigured in January to limit the impact of the announced third wave of Covid-19? The debate is hot, as the number of intensive care patients in France surpassed the peak reached during the second wave in November on Monday. Guest of Patrick Cohen, Tuesday noon on Europe 1, Philippe Amouyel, professor of Public Health at the University Hospital of Lille, was cautious on the question, considering however that this new period of hospital tension could have been better anticipated.

Scientists had “not expected a rise in February”

“To my knowledge, among the epidemiologists who make projections that are listened to, be they those of Pasteur Paris, those of Vittoria Colizza [Directrice de recherche à l’Inserm, ndlr] or others, even mine, we did not plan to climb in February “, explains Philippe Amouyel.” We always said that it was from March that we were going to start having problems, for a simple and good reason, it is that it is at this moment that the British virus would become dominant in all France and would give a new dynamic to this epidemic. ”

This is what happened, according to the specialist. “This British variant virus is more serious, so more people are coming into intensive care, often younger, because the most vulnerable may have started to be vaccinated. And people are staying a little longer in intensive care. So we are starting to have a saturation which will require quickly pushing the walls. “

“We give tools to the politicians who decide”

If this situation were so predictable, why did the authorities not act more in late February or early March? “We give weapons, points of reference, tools to politicians, who decide according to other parameters which are not only health”, replies Philippe Amouyel. “They are the ones who make the decisions that they take responsibility for.”

“But the interest in the health plan is to anticipate”, notes the professor of Public Health. And to move forward: “if we had been able to anticipate measures by two, three or four weeks, we might not be at this current level.”

A necessary “clear communication from the government”

Anyway, France is now “in an intermediate phase, which will probably last three, four, five or six weeks”, according to Philippe Amouyel. “A phase during which it will be necessary to put in place measures that make it possible to slow down this increase in patients in intensive care”, continues the specialist, who does not plead for strict confinement, on the model of that established a year ago, nor for a school closure.

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“Remember the Christmas season, we all feared a ‘Thanksgiving effect’, like in America, we didn’t have. Why? Because there was clear communication from the government, on regulations for six at a meal, on the removal of vulnerable people … “argues the expert, focusing more on accountability than on administrative restrictions. “I strongly believe in this solution. At that price, we can avoid a new confinement that is too massive.”

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