France is currently in the midst of its seventh wave of Covid, with cases reaching over 200,000 in the past 24 hours.
The rate of hospitalisations, admittances to ICUs and deaths has also been increasing, although far more steadily.
Health ministry data shows the number of people in French hospitals with Covid is up 10% from last week with just over 17,000 beds taken by Covid patients. This is still far lower than the maximum recorded, which reached over 33,000 in both November 2020 and February of this year.
The number of people in hospital due to Covid in France since April 2020. Credit: Covidtracker.fr
Yves Buisson, head of the Covid unit at the Académie de médecine, told Ouest-France that it is mainly people aged 80 and over and those with underlying health issues who are at risk.
He said that if everyone who was eligible for a second booster dose had one, “there would be a lot fewer people in hospital”.
“The vaccination does not stop people being infected or the spread of the virus but it is still very effective at reducing serious forms of the disease,” he said.
The graph below shows the number of patients by age in hospital due to Covid in France, with 80 to 89 year olds making up the biggest proportion.
The number of people in hospital due to Covid by age demographic. Data from July 5, 2022. Credit: Covidtracker.fr
The government is encouraging everyone aged 60 and over to get a second booster dose but so far the take up remains limited.
Only 25.5% of people aged 60 - 79 have had a second booster and only 31.3% of those aged over 80 have had one, figures published by Santé Publique France on June 30 show.
French epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet has said that the second booster dose cuts a person’s risk of hospitalisation by four.
“There are not any more undesirable effects than after the first booster and no depletion of the immune response when you repeat the injections,” he said on May 5.
A booster dose from the Pfizer vaccine is 90% effective at reducing the risk of hospitalisations but this falls to 85% after between five and nine weeks and then to 75% after 10 to 14 weeks.
A booster dose from the Moderna vaccine remains 90 to 95% effective at reducing hospitalisation for up to nine weeks, France’s Haute Autorité de Santé wrote in a March 17 report.