“Affected people are rather young people, who have not been vaccinated, who do not have a serious form, who are not in a hospital, and therefore this has no effect at the moment on the patient.“, on Franceinfo Monday, June 7, Benoit Elbaud, Director General of the Regional Health Agency (ARS) Nouvelle-Aquitaine and physician in public health. He explained the suspected cases of Covid-19 with the delta variant, which was first identified in April in India and is now dominant in the UK.
franceinfo: The delta variant, or virus variant B.1.617.2, has been a particular concern for the New Aquitaine region since Wednesday. How many cases are listed?
Benoît Elleboode : Today we have two instances of delta variants that have been sequenced, i.e. well defined as delta variant. We have suspected delta variants in about fifty patients who have only been ‘screened’ biologically and are awaiting sequencing at the beginning of the week. In any case, there is a high probability that this is a delta variant. These patients are in the Landes Department, which today has an incidence rate of about 100, which is slightly higher than the national average and the regional average, which is about 72.
Should we be worried?
This should be a concern in the sense that according to the latest studies, particularly those in England, the delta variant will have a 40% higher rate of pollution than the pollution rate of the so-called British variant. You have to worry about it because it is a virus that spreads more. As I talk to you, we don’t yet have any indication of its progress. We discovered it last week, and went back to try to determine that there were no patients as soon as possible and trace back to identify all the people who could have been infected so we could isolate them. I will speak with the governor this morning and we will announce a specific action plan to contain the pandemic. Affected people are rather young people, who have not been vaccinated, who do not have a serious form, who are not in the hospital and so at the moment this has no effect on the patient’s tissues of the hospital. And the effect on the hospital fabric is what makes us consider restrictive measures.
This delta variant threatens recent deregulation actions in the UK. In France, are we not risking a fourth wave in a few weeks or even a few months that has taken root in your region?
This is the big difference with Great Britain. Britain chose to vaccinate the entire population without priority. Today, the resumption of the epidemic in Great Britain can affect the elderly and the frail, and so they can take dangerous forms and saturate hospitals. In France, our immunization strategy was to prioritize the vaccination of people at risk. These vulnerable people are widely vaccinated in France, particularly in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. More than 80% of those over 65 years of age are vaccinated. Today, this vaccination strategy in France is paying off and means that we can tolerate a higher infection rate than other countries, because our fragile population is protected and thus we protect our hospitals from the saturation associated with severe forms.
The question is a question of balance: on the one hand, there are the disengagement measures and new variants that pollute more and that tend to increase the infection rate. On the other hand, we have a vaccine that protects vulnerable people and protects hospitals from saturation. If the two are in balance, there is no problem in continuing the deregulation measures as planned by the government. If for one reason or another there is a malfunction, then things need to be reconsidered.