After five weeks of increase, the epidemic stabilizes

After five weeks of an unusually late rise for the season, the flu epidemic seems to be stabilizing in mainland France, but deaths continue to increase, according to the weekly report from Public Health France, published on Wednesday.

For the past week, the health agency has noted “a stability of most flu indicators in mainland France”. The situation varies from region to region. “Influenza indicators were stable in 7 of the 13 regions, decreasing in Brittany and still increasing in the Centre-Val-de-Loire, Île-de-France, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitanie and Pays-de-la regions. -Loire”, notes Public Health France.

In community medicine, the rate of consultations for flu-like illness was down, and the proportion of flu-like illnesses in SOS Médecins consultations was stable. The share of hospitalizations for influenza or influenza-like illness among all hospitalizations has increased very slightly.

A rise in deaths

As for deaths, the share linked to influenza in deaths resulting from electronic certification “continued to progress (…), exceeding the level reached during the peak of the 2019-2020 influenza epidemic”, observed Public Health France. These deaths mainly concerned people aged 65 or over (84%). Thirteen deaths were however recorded in people under 15 and nearly forty in people aged 15 to 64.

Overseas, a resumption of influenza appeared in Mayotte, which had entered the pre-epidemic phase, while the epidemic seemed to stabilize in Guyana. Usually, the peak of this epidemic caused by respiratory influenza viruses is reached around February.

Herd immunity?

The late resumption of influenza this year may be linked to lower herd immunity to this epidemic. In the winter of 2020-2021, the French were less infected than usual, because the anti-Covid containment measures blocked the circulation of many other viruses.

In addition, the intensification of recent weeks has most likely been favored by the easing of anti-Covid measures, in particular the lifting of the mandatory mask. In this context, also marked by a persistent Covid epidemic, Public Health France reaffirms the importance of barrier gestures and vaccination. Just over half (about 51.4%) of people at risk, those over 65 and vulnerable people, have been vaccinated against the flu, according to estimates.

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