PARIS (Reuters) – The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has yet to reach its peak in France, but the outlook is improving with the potential arrival of vaccines in the coming months, a senior adviser said on Friday government scientist.
“Even if the vaccine will not solve everything and, even if 2021 will not be an ordinary year, I see the light at the end of the tunnel,” immunologist Jean-François Delfraissy told Le Monde in an interview.
Delfraissy was one of the first key government advisers to warn of an impending second wave of respiratory illness in France, which returned to lockdown on October 30 for at least a month.
Less severe than in March, the latest restrictions have managed to reduce new daily infections and ease the pressure on the French health system. The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 fell sharply for a third consecutive day Thursday.
“There are some indicators that suggest that we have reached the top or at least that we are not far from it in some parts of the country. However, it is still too early to say so definitively, ”said Delfraissy.
The positive trend has led to calls to start loosening the lockdown as soon as possible before the Christmas holidays. Measures such as reopening all stores and allowing travel across the country are under discussion.
President Emmanuel Macron is due to give an overview next week.
“It’s likely that we won’t be able to have a normal situation during the holiday season,” Delfraissy said.
The daily tally of cases is unlikely to fall below the 5,000 threshold before the end of the year, he said, let alone the end of November targeted by Macron.
Daily new infections hit an all-time high of 86,852 on November 7, and the seven-day moving average that day stood at 54,440. On Thursday, that indicator more than halved to 26,797, but remains five times higher than Macron’s target.
With nearly 2.1 million confirmed cases, France ranks fourth in the world behind the United States, India and Brazil. Its death toll from COVID-19, at 47,127, is the seventh highest.
(Editing by John Irish and Mark Heinrich)