Europe 1 with AFP 4 p.m., December 19, 2022
In an opinion published on Monday, the Covars recommends "amplifying barrier gestures and vaccination as quickly as possible", without pronouncing for or against an obligation to wear a mask in closed places.
An opinion expressed while France is experiencing a triple epidemic of Covid-flu and Branchiolitis.
Faced with the triple Covid-flu-bronchiolitis epidemic, the Covars recommends to "amplify as quickly as possible" barrier gestures and vaccination, without pronouncing for or against an obligation to wear a mask in closed places, in a published opinion Monday.
Faced with "an active resumption of circulation of SARS-COV2, an epidemic threshold crossing of influenza and an intense and early epidemic of bronchiolitis, as well as in anticipation of the next end-of-year celebrations, a source of significant intergenerational mixing ", the Committee for monitoring and anticipating health risks, successor to the Scientific Council, issues new recommendations.
On the mask, the committee observes the “very low level of wearing a mask in public transport and other closed places” and specifies that “the benefit” of a generalized wearing in such places “would relate to the three current epidemics ", in its new opinion submitted to the Ministry of Health and Prevention.
"Critical situation in the hospital"
The Covars, chaired by immunologist Brigitte Autran, does not decide for or against the obligation to wear a mask, but lists the arguments in favor of an obligation ("low efficiency of the recommendation messages maintained", etc.) and in disfavor ("perception of the limitation of individual freedoms"...)
In the "new elements to help public decision-making on wearing a mask", he points to the "critical situation of the hospital", the loss of effectiveness of preventive treatments for certain immunocompromised people, the low levels of vaccination against Covid and influenza in often identical risk populations.
Obligation or not, the committee recommends “reinforcing the accessibility/free availability of masks in all places where they are needed”, “limiting their cost and ensuring their distribution to all people wishing to use it".
Vaccination lagging behind
For vaccination, the Covars calls for it to be "intensified" against Covid and the flu, with "incentive and transparent communication intended for the general population", "reinforced communication intended for caregivers on the benefits and limits of vaccine reminders", strong and rapid actions towards certain populations, or the reopening of specific centres.
If it has rebounded in recent weeks, the autumn anti-Covid vaccination remains behind, reflecting “the difficulties, for the population and certain health professionals, in understanding the objectives of these repeated reminders”.
However, several recent data "confirm the benefit of the 2nd and 3rd boosters in real life against symptomatic and severe forms of COVID-19", underlines the opinion.