“The year 2022 will perhaps be the year of the end of the Covid-19 epidemic,” said Emmanuel Macron during his Happy New Year speech to the French. For his part, Olivier Véran said on Monday that this fifth wave could “perhaps” be the last.
While contamination records have been broken in recent days, here are 5 reasons to believe that 2022 will mark the end of the Covid-19 epidemic.
The vaccination and booster campaign continues
Since the initiation of the third dose of vaccine, the number of immunizations continues to increase. Today, the number of people who have received a booster dose is approaching 25 million. By February 15, the government hopes that 45 million people will have received their booster dose.
“Protection against severe forms is very well preserved, in the order of 80 to 90% after a booster dose, and this is why it is essential to be vaccinated”, Olivier Véran told JDD.
According to forecasts, with the number of people vaccinated on the rise, the risks of severe forms linked to the coronavirus are expected to drop. In addition, a vaccine that will effectively fight the Omicron variant is under study and is expected in the coming months.
The Omicron variant is less severe than expected
The year 2022 will be the year in which a fight against the variants of Covid-19 will be played out, including the Omicron variant.
Several studies have shown that it is much more contagious than the Delta variant, but its lower severity has also been proven.
“The English data confirm the good news that our South African colleagues had already reported: it is a less virulent variant, with fewer severe forms of Covid-19” said Arnaud Fontanet, epidemiologist and member of the Scientific Council.
Since the arrival of the Omicron variant, doctors have observed that the average length of hospital stay of patients has decreased, as well as their need for oxygen.
Be careful, this does not mean that the hospitals are not full: “We expect Omicron to greatly increase the number of hospitalizations, and less strongly the admissions in critical care or intensive care”, anticipates Olivier Véran which calls for maintaining barrier gestures.
Paxlovid: a promising new treatment
This year should release a new treatment against Covid-19: Paxlovid, developed by the company Pfizer.
This should reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% in people at risk of developing a severe form of the disease.
“We have found that we have great efficacy even when a patient has been treated after five days,” said Annaliesa Anderson, program director at Pfizer.
In addition, while some treatments have seen their effectiveness reduced compared to the Omicron variant, Paxlovid has been shown to be still effective. If the first results prove to be conclusive, the drug could come to relieve the hospitals, provided it can be administered quickly to the patients.
On December 16, the European Health Agency (EMA) authorized the administration of this treatment “in an emergency”. New tests will be carried out in January.
Collective immunity is on the rise
With the high rate of contagion linked to the Omicron variant, it will be able to achieve collective immunity.
The variant is extremely transmissible and affects many people, especially the unvaccinated. By the end of 2022, the entire population is expected to have received a dose of the vaccine or have been infected with the virus.
For Olivier Véran, this fifth wave will be “perhaps the last”.
“Omicron is so contagious that it will affect people around the world. It will lead to enhanced immunity: we will all be more armed after its passage. “
For his part, Arnaud Fontanet affirms that we can expect that “new variants will emerge but, as our immunity strengthens over time, their capacity to give severe forms will decrease. […] the more time passes, the less painful the waves will be. “
The Covid-19 epidemic tends to less serious forms
According to several scientific forecasts, in 2022, the Covid should become less serious.
“This respiratory virus will end up behaving like other respiratory viruses, that is to say switch to a certain seasonality and reduce in impact”, declared Bruno Lina, member of the Scientific Council. Gradually, this virus “should lose pathogenicity, virulence and slowly evolve to become a common virus”.
The coronavirus will not go away, but its circulation and severity will decrease.
“SARS-CoV-2 will join other human seasonal coronaviruses which give us colds and tonsillitis every winter”, hopes Arnaud Fontanet.