Will the hospital be overwhelmed by the fifth wave? At a time when contaminations are exploding (nearly 73,000 on average per day) because of the Omicron variant, the government fears a saturation of medical services.
To anticipate possible more restrictive measures, the Institut Pasteur has developed various scenarios published on December 29.
The researchers issued three “predictions”, describing the consequences of the fifth wave according to the degree of severity of Omicron.
The dangerousness of this variant compared to others is not yet known with certainty.
Scenario 1: Omicron 2 times less dangerous than the INITIAL virus
The Institut Pasteur began by studying the case where Omicron would be half as severe as the historic virus, and 77% less severe than the Delta variant (to date, the most “dangerous” of all known variants). They also took into account the degree of contagiousness of Omicron.
In this configuration, with the advantage of intermediate transmission and without modification of the behavior of the French, the peak of hospitalizations could reach 2,700 per day. This figure is equivalent to that of the second wave of autumn 2020.
On the other hand, it is higher than those of the third and fourth wave (respectively 2,500 and 1,200 hospitalizations per day during the peak). If the French reduced their social contacts by 20%, the number of hospitalizations could drop to 1,400 per day.
Scenario 2: Omicron is as dangerous as the historical virus
The second scenario corresponds to a situation where Omicron would be as dangerous as the historic virus, and therefore 54% less severe than Delta.
Without further restrictions, 4,500 hospitalizations are expected each day at the height of the wave. This is a similar number to that reached in March 2020.
With a 20% reduction in social contacts, this figure drops to 2,100 per day (the equivalent of the situation in March and April 2021).
Scenario 3: Omicron more dangerous than the historical virus
Finally, the Institut Pasteur considered the possibility that Omicron would have a level of severity similar to that of the Delta variant. This forecast, the most alarmist of all, reports 7,500 hospitalizations per day at the peak of the wave and without modification of the behavior of the French. This is a figure much higher than March 2020, when the record for new hospitalizations in 24 hours was set at 4,281. Containment could then become essential to avoid the saturation of resuscitation services.
The good news is that this scenario appears to be the least likely. Studies from the UK and South Africa, where this variant first appeared, estimate Omicron to be less severe than Delta. These results are still analyzed with caution.