How fast is the British variant spreading in France? Since the identification of the first case in France on December 25, this variant called VOC-202012/01 has made good progress. On January 12, the Minister of Health Olivier Véran announced that this variant represented 1% of contaminations in France.

And in a new study published on January 16 on the site EPIcx lab, Inserm researchers estimate that 1.4% of diagnosed cases are now due to VOC. And knowing that this variant is between 50 and 70% more contagious than the old variant, its proportion may still climb rapidly.

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A peak in hospitalization between mid-February and early April

To know when the VOC will be more present than the old one, the authors of the study made mathematical projections. Result: “the variant would become dominant in France between late February and mid-March“say the researchers. E

t, “in the absence of intervention “, the number of weekly hospitalizations is expected to peak in “level of the first wave (around 25,000 hospitalizations) between mid-February and early April“, they specify.

Thus, in the best scenario, the peak of hospitalization would be reached at the end of March. But in the worst-case scenario, the number of hospitalizations would exceed 20,000 by mid-February, if no measures were put in place.

A curfew and vaccination effect?

But these projections could be corrected in the coming weeks. Indeed, the researchers used data that stop at January 10, and have therefore not yet been able to take into account the effect of the vaccination, which has since accelerated. The national curfew from 6 p.m., introduced on January 16, was not included in the calculations either. Two measures that could have a mitigating effect on the projections.

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But a last point not taken into account could have an aggravating effect on the estimates: the presence on the territory of another variant, the South African variant, also more contagious than the old one.

Social distancing and vaccination

However, for the researchers, these results already show two things: the importance of strengthening social distancing measures on the one hand, and that of accelerating the vaccination campaign on the other. Because vaccination “will help smooth out the curve in the coming months and reduce hospitalizations“they finally recall.