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the health.  Here's why the flu pandemic is playing overtime this year

the health. Here’s why the flu pandemic is playing overtime this year

The flu is playing overtime this year. The epidemic continues to rise, unusually late in the season, in all regions of the capital, according to the weekly report of public health in France, published on Wednesday.

Last week, the Public Health Agency reported that “almost all indications of influenza were still increasing in France”. “All urban areas and all age groups” are involved. Abroad, French Guiana has entered a post-pandemic phase.

In city medicine as well as in hospitals, flu-related activity increased again last week, while remaining at a “moderate” level. In the hospital, 8,918 emergency room visits for influenza or influenza syndrome (+29% within 1 week), and 908 post-passage hospitalizations (+22%) were recorded.

On the mortality front, a “significant increase in influenza-related deaths from the electronic certification system” was observed for several weeks. Usually, the peak of this epidemic caused by respiratory influenza viruses reaches around February.

covid effect

A late flu resumption this year may be related to weaker herd immunity to this pandemic, according to virologists. In the winter of 2020-2021, the French were less infected than usual, because measures to contain the Covid virus prevented the spread of many other viruses.

In addition, the intensification of recent weeks is “highly favorable by easing the measures to control the Covid-19 epidemic”, as Public Health France notes, in unison with other specialists who have pointed the finger at the mandatory lifting of the mask in almost all places that have been closed since 14 March. “Vaccination and respect for barrier gestures are still the best way to protect yourself from influenza,” the health agency recalls.

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The vaccine is a “shield” with holes

More than half (about 51.4%) of high-risk, over-65s and vulnerable people have been vaccinated against influenza, according to estimates. But this “shield” vaccine has its limits. Influenza vaccination began just over five months ago, raising questions among some specialists about the level of protection now.

The efficacy of the 2021-2022 influenza vaccine is also estimated to be 52% against all influenza viruses, according to preliminary data. The health agency notes that “several viral strains are currently circulating in France and most of them have nothing to do with the strains in the vaccine.”