The flu epidemic which is currently ending in Australia has been virulent (220,000 cases in total). Should we expect a similar scenario in France this winter?
We have indeed noted rather worrying signals in Australia, where we have recorded many more cases of influenza this year, in particular more serious forms and deaths. But it is difficult to know with certainty whether the situation will be the same in France this winter. The dynamics of influenza epidemics are complex. But overall, an increase in cases is expected. While in 2020 and 2021, the flu had been absent thanks to barrier gestures and better vaccination coverage, already last year, it had started late in March, with a peak in April. This already went hand in hand with the relaxation of barrier gestures and a vaccination coverage that had decreased.
Has the low circulation of the flu over the past three years had an impact on the immunity of the French?
In reality, the flu virus is very different from year to year, so immune memory is lost very quickly. It is a virus that requires annual vaccination for the most fragile, whatever happens.
The fear of Covid seems to have alleviated fears about the flu…
Wrongly, because the flu virus remains dangerous, particularly for those over 65 and those suffering from immune deficiency…
Should we fear a cohabitation of the two viruses this winter?
Sure ! I have just attended a congress on respiratory viruses: all the major experts fear it in view of the abandonment of the main barrier gestures. We also recommend wearing a mask in enclosed spaces, either to protect yourself if you are at risk, or to avoid contagiousness if you are ill, a little “Asian style”.
Is the hospital strong enough to cope on these two fronts?
I think yes. Don’t wave the red flag either. As much as the hospital had difficulties in receiving emergency care this summer, we are not expecting an explosion of cases this winter as we saw at the start of the Covid epidemic.
The High Authority for Health recommends double vaccination, against Covid and flu. But some seem frightened at the idea of combining the two…