Flu, chilly, gastro… Will we be sicker this winter?
No confinement in sight for the second on this fall of 2022. No harbinger both of a interval of pressured telework. And, presently, carrying a masks is not necessary in enclosed areas. What protected us from winter viruses through the Covid-19 pandemic is not related and they’re, for some, beginning to come again with a vengeance. Are we extra vulnerable to getting sick this winter? This is what well being professionals are saying.
Viruses are already circulating
For now, the scenario continues to be “fairly blurry” says Caroline Guerrisi, epidemiologist on the Sentinelles community. Relating to viruses, “there’s a little bit of all the pieces”, she assures. Though “bronchiolitis begins very strongly in toddlers”, specifies Jacques Le Pendu, immunologist and director of analysis at Inserm (Nationwide Institute of Well being and Medical Analysis).
As for the flu, if just a few instances have already been recognized, the epidemic is just at its quivering.
Like each winter, it’s primarily respiratory viruses and gastroenteritis which can be anticipated within the coming months. “Everybody says we anticipate a stronger flu epidemic as a result of it was much less within the final two years”, notes virologist Christine Rouzioux, member of the Nationwide Academy of Drugs.
And for good motive, well being professionals are used to observing the epidemic scenario within the southern hemisphere, to take the heartbeat of what might probably occur in France six months later. “This yr the flu epidemic began fairly early in Australia and has reached fairly excessive incidence ranges,” studies Pascal Crepey, epidemiologist on the Faculty of Superior Research in Public Well being. Nonetheless, there isn’t a assure that an equal scenario will happen in France. “There isn’t a motive for the viruses to be extra virulent than in different years”, he needs to reassure.
Decline in immunity
The priority, nevertheless, is that this winter “there will probably be extra goal individuals and due to this fact in all probability extra contamination” to return, underlines the immunologist Jacques Le Pendu. The explanation ? Declining immunity. “It would not final eternally, he explains. And since sure viruses haven’t been encountered in recent times, the general immunity of the inhabitants has decreased. »
For the flu, for instance, immunity weakens over time. Because the contaminations have been comparatively low the previous two winters, “fewer individuals have been immunized”. “The proportion of individuals unable to defend themselves this winter towards the virus will due to this fact be larger”, provides the immunologist.
That is what is going on proper now with the bronchiolitis epidemic. “Immunity has not been acquired in some infants in recent times,” particularly due to confinements and barrier gestures, explains Jacques Le Pendu. They have not confronted the virus but, so “there are extra goal infants this yr, and extra of them are susceptible to an infection”.
In Australia, “This immune debt might have contributed to a rise within the circulation of the flu”, factors out epidemiologist Pascal Crepey.
Concretely, “there are prone to be extra sick individuals this winter”, summarizes Jacques Le Pendu.
Preserve barrier gestures
The discount in barrier gestures and vaccination might additionally contribute to this upsurge in contamination. “It’s to be feared that pandemic fatigue, linked to virtually three years of Covid-19, could have a detrimental influence each on the apply of barrier measures and”, notes Pascal Crepey.
Well being professionals are unanimous: eligible individuals should be vaccinated, and sure barrier gestures should not be forgotten. “Hand washing, for instance, could be very simple to do and it simply reduces the influence of a virus”, emphasizes Jacques Le Pendu. “Sporting a masks can also be advisable in transport”, provides virologist Christine Rouzioux.
Exit, then, the technique of herd immunity? Clearly, “it’s good to coach your immune system”, acknowledges Jacques Le Pendu. However this isn’t with out danger since, when one is in poor health, “we enter a series of propagation the place we ourselves will infect different individuals”, completes Pascal Crepey. And if frail or immunocompromised individuals are contaminated, then the scenario can change into very critical.
It is necessary “keep the great practices acquired through the pandemic in an clever means when essential”, advises Pascal Crepey. It’s endorsed to use barrier gestures, “even for a easy chilly”, assures Christine Rouzioux. “With out realizing exactly what is going to occur this winter, provides the virologist, we should stay vigilant. »
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