Covid in Ile-de-France: “Let’s not spoil everything with the New Year’s Eve”, warns the director of the ARS

A few hours before the New Year and its festivities, and while the second wave of Covid-19 is still there, Aurélien Rousseau, Director General of the Regional Health Agency (ARS) of Ile-de-France, calls for caution and details the planned vaccination schedule.

How can Ile-de-France avoid re-containment?

Aurélien Rousseau. One of the major challenges is not to relax our vigilance, especially for Christmas Eve. This does not only concern caregivers and authorities, it is everyone’s business. The fact that there is no new outbreak of the virus should not make us forget that Ile-de-France experienced a first wave of incredible violence. Let’s not ruin everything with the New Year’s Eve on December 31st.

What is your assessment of the Christmas celebrations?

We will start to see the impact in the coming days. But I do not know anyone who has not wondered about the organization of Christmas celebrations, wondering whether to find parents, grandparents, change their plans … And that is already a given.

You were counting on the availability of nearly 400,000 PCR tests before the holidays, how many were finally carried out?

According to data from Public Health France, for the period from December 18 to 24, 737,291 PCR and antigen tests were carried out in Ile-de-France. I would remind you that 45,000 were produced in June per week and a little over 250,000 in October. Thanks to the mobilization of all the players, we have absorbed a massive demand.

The English variant of the virus throws trouble on the effectiveness of antigenic tests, how to navigate?

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As early as last week, the National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM) verified that the various antigenic tests identified the English variant. All the tests purchased by the State or central purchasing body identify this English variant. We go over all the tests with a fine-tooth comb. The message is that when you come back from Great Britain, you have to do a PCR test to be sure you don’t miss out.

What did the control operations give to the performance of antigenic screening?

These are random checks or following reports. I can only encourage people to report by calling the ARS. From December 10 to 20, 16 pharmacies were inspected and no major failures were identified. In particular, we wanted to verify the respect of confidentiality when rendering the result, and the temperature of 15 ° C required for the performance of the tests. This requires the small outdoor barnums to be heated a bit.

The epidemic indicators seem less maddening than elsewhere …

Let’s be careful. The declining positivity rate is explained by the mass of screenings. However, those who are tested are often more cautious. The incidence rate is 140, and half of the resuscitation beds (50.8% of the 1,200 beds) are occupied by Covid patients and 10% of operations remain unscheduled. We are not observing a downward trend, there is a plateau that we cannot break through. Some people talk about the third wave, but the reality is that we are still not out of this second wave. And any rebound will be all the more difficult to take as we enter the twelfth month of the epidemic in Ile-de-France.

After Mauricette in Seine-Saint-Denis, who will be the next vaccinated Ile-de-France residents?

Vaccination continues in nursing homes, public and private, and long-term care units (USLD), in Paris, in Hauts-de-Seine, Yvelines and again in Seine-Saint-Denis. Next week, there will be around fifty operations, four per departments. In order to vaccinate in all 700 nursing homes in Ile-de-France by early February (21,500 cases of Covid were identified in the Ile-de-France nursing homes between March 1 and December 28, Editor’s note). The second phase of home vaccinations for over 75s will follow, in accordance with the priorities of the High Authority for Health (HAS).

VIDEO. Covid-19: the first dose of the vaccine administered in a hospital in Seine-Saint-Denis

How many doses haveyou currently?

We do not communicate on these figures.

Why ?

We started the campaign two days ago! At this stage, these are low volumes which will increase at the end of the week. For René-Muret, for example, the delivery of Pfizer from Belgium took place on Saturday for a vaccination on Sunday. I remind you that this vaccine, which can be stored at – 80 ° C, must be administered within five days. We will have the necessary doses to proceed with the vaccination in the 700 nursing homes in the region by the end of January. But beyond heavy statistical stakes, the operation can only be undertaken on a large scale once consent has been obtained. Here too, we scrupulously follow both the recommendations of the HAS and the principles set out in the code of ethics for physicians.

Is it precisely because of this difficulty in obtaining consent that only 8 residents were vaccinated in René-Muret (Seine-Saint-Denis)?

This could not be done on a large scale because the final elements were not communicated by the HAS on Thursday. There will be other operations at René-Muret. We are aware that this procedure of obtaining consent and the pre-vaccination consultation, the dialogue with a doctor, take time, but it is the pivot to establish this trust.

What are your tools to dispel mistrust, including in the ranks of nursing home staff?

For the past two weeks, in each department, we have organized videoconference meetings with infectious disease specialists and health professionals on the subject of vaccination. Thousands of doctors were able to converse and ask questions. In the Val-d’Oise, 900 doctors were connected. Trusted providers are health professionals, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, we need to be able to equip them. And Monday, the Minister of Health confirmed to the Order of Physicians that they benefit from the same legal protection regime as for compulsory vaccines.

How is the start of the new school year in Ile-de-France in five days?

The health protocols will be registered over time. We are working a lot with universities to anticipate the recovery. Screenings in high schools have enabled us to verify that we were not passing by sources of contamination and the school medical services have antigen tests available. But unlike the month of October, screening can now be done elsewhere.

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