Flu cases are still rising and are now at epidemic levels across France.
The new weekly report by health authority Santé publique France (SPF) from yesterday (March 23) found “a continuation of the increase of all flu indicators across the mainland”, with “all mainland regions now in an epidemic”.
Corsica, which had previously been the only region to avoid the epidemic, is now also affected.
Healthcare units and hospitals have now passed from “low” to “moderate” in terms of pressure felt from flu.
The epidemic has come particularly late this year, SPF said. Over the past few years, the peak of the annual flu season (measured by the number of GP consultations per number of inhabitants) has tended to happen in February.
This year, the epidemic has hit later, “very probably due to the end of the winter holidays and the lifting of control measures of the Covid-19 pandemic”, SPF said.
Winter 2020-2021 was also not typical, given the continued Covid restrictions and lockdown rules. This also meant that other viruses, such as flu, did not circulate in the usual way, despite being less infected, it has also reduced people’s immunity.
Similarly, early data on the 2021-2022 flu vaccine suggests that it is only 50% effective towards the current flu strains. Like most viruses, flu mutates and changes year-on-year, requiring regular updates to the annual flu vaccines, and varying degrees of effectiveness.
SPF said that further data on the vaccine’s effectiveness will be consolidated over the next few weeks.
It comes after SPF said that the country was seeing a “second epidemic wave” of flu, but Health Minister Olivier Véran said on Wednesday, March 16 that the spike in cases was likely to be short-lived.
He said: “[They will likely] rise for 10 to 15 days probably, until the end of March, and then we expect there to be a decrease.”