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More leading scientists in France say Omicron could be good news

Infectious diseases experts from the official Covid advisory body have said that the variant is 50-80% less severe than previous variants, and is moving towards the characteristics of a classic seasonal bug

Two Conseil scientifique professors have said that Omicron is less severe than Covid and is good news for the fight against the pandemic Pic: FamVeld / Shutterstock

Two members of France’s official Covid advisory body to the government have seconded suggestions that the Omicron variant could eventually prove to be good news in the fight against Covid. 

Read more: Why Omicron could be good news: French experts give views

Infectious diseases Professors Yazdan Yazdanpanah and Bruno Lina, members of France’s Conseil scientifique, have outlined several reasons for optimism on BFMTV.

Their comments follow the government’s decision to slightly relax the quarantine period for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people infected with Covid.

Read more: Why France is easing its Covid isolation and contact case rules

Prof Yazdanpanah said: “We are facing a variant which, we now know, is less severe than previous variants: 50-80% less severe.

“We are facing a variant whose incubation period, before symptoms appear, has fallen from five to three days. 

“We have a population, if we take those aged over 12, which is 90% vaccinated. We are in a completely different situation to those we have faced previously.”

Prof Yazdanpanah also said that the Omicron variant may evolve more slowly and will likely “enter into the ranks of seasonal viruses.” 

Prof Lina observed that: “We are still within the virus’ evolutionary process, meaning that it is still adapting to the people it infects. 

“In a context where there is more collective immunity, the virus, in order to retain its epidemic potential, must evolve. But this evolution is clearly different to that which we have seen until now, because there have been a series of mutations observed and these mutations are very significant for the virus, as they change its biology.”

Before now, the virus was more likely to cause “serious lower respiratory tract infections,” but now vaccinated people appear to be experiencing “upper respiratory tract infections.

“So, we have a sort of change to the virus’ tropism, and this is perhaps a sign of a significant evolution of the virus towards a less serious, more classic [illness],” Prof Lina added. 

Covid still continues to mutate, but Prof Lina told BFMTV that it may be slowing down and becoming more like “the other coronaviruses which evolve every ten months or so instead of every few months.”

Health Minister Olivier Véran has said that “very few” patients are currently in intensive care with Omicron, although many have been admitted to “conventional hospital beds.” The Delta variant, on the other hand, caused more people to be admitted to intensive care units. 

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