Dr Marc Baguelin, an infectious disease specialist at Imperial College London, said there were legitimate concerns about the spread of the ‘Indian’ variant in the UK.
“You could say the number of cases is very low, but I don’t think it’s true that it’s only in a few pockets, it’s actually relatively widespread now,” he said.
“It has changed a lot, because at the beginning it was mostly in Bolton [in Greater Manchester] and London.
“There are also indications that this variant spreads a little more easily than the previous ones. It is not known exactly how much, but it appears to be a bit more transmissible and also potentially the vaccine is less effective in preventing it.
“So overall it looks a bit worse, so I can understand why the French authorities want to limit the import in order to move the vaccination program forward.
A study by Public Health England, in particular, recently compared it to the other two “British variants,” Dr Baguelin said. “The AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines have been tested and found to have reduced efficacy against them, although the efficacy was still relatively high.”
Some fear this could lead to another wave of the virus in the UK this summer, he said. Even so, given the current low overall rates in the UK, the threat may be low.
“However, what characterizes the situation at the moment is a lot of uncertainty. Thus, political considerations are also likely to come into play.
“The French government wants to be seen as being cautious.”
Dr Baguelin said the French would like to avoid repeating what happened earlier in the year when the number of cases declined in France before the ‘British variant’ arrived and became the most prevalent.
“Especially since they are deploying their vaccination program. It is accelerating and they do not want to compromise.
“However, I guess things will change once we know more about the variant and once France increases its vaccine coverage enough to take it into account.” If cases remain very low in the UK, they will likely revise their position as well.
“There may also be measures to come in France depending on the status of travelers – whether or not they are vaccinated,” he said.
“There is also an economic element to consider – they want people to come and visit, so there is a balance between not wanting a resurgence of a bad variant and at the same time, it is not in their best interest. to block travelers who come indefinitely. “
He added: “I hope they put something in place [to allow British visitors to return], because it is true that the number of cases is low in the UK and the vaccination is quite high.
“But at the same time, I can understand the logic of the French government. It really is a race between vaccination and opening up the economy. “
What’s new on the Indian variant in France
What are the “essential” reasons for traveling from the UK to France?
Arrivals to the UK must be quarantined and have an essential reason to go