With the approach of back to school, the high level of contagion of the Delta variant led scientists on Thursday to call for more effective actions to prevent a wave of the virus in schools, even though for the moment the vaccine for children under 12 years is not allowed.
In France, the Delta virus continues to worry doctors and researchers. Two weeks after the return to school, the high level of contagion of the variant led scientists to ask for more effective actions on August 19 to prevent an outbreak of the virus in schools, although for the moment the possibility of vaccinating is excluded. to those under 12 years of age.
In an opinion article in the newspaper ‘Le Monde’, around 30 doctors, researchers and teachers call for “firm action” and “effective measures starting from the return to school” on September 2, without addressing the issue of vaccination. .
“Sound the alarm”
“In the United States, Canada, India, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain…, pediatricians and scientific communities call for even more protection for children under 12 years of age. Today it is our turn to sound the alarm ”, writes the group that brings together epidemiologists Dominique Costagliola and William Dab, infectious disease specialist Gilles Pialoux and doctor Jérôme Marty, president of the union of liberal doctors UFML.
They point out that “the rate of hospitalization between 0 and 19 years of age increases in countries where the Delta variant is dominant.” In France, where this variant is more than 98% prevalent, the number of hospitalizations among children aged 0 to 9 is “double what it was last year” on the same date, and “four times” among those of 10 to 19 years.
The Delta variant “completely changed the landscape,” Robert Cohen, president of the National Professional Council of Pediatrics (CNP), told AFP, highlighting that “mathematically, as it is two to three times more contagious, there will be more serious and hospitalizations ”, including among the smallest, although these cases are rare.
‘Prevention measures must be strengthened’
But, above all, “children will be contagious, practically the same as adults with the first variants of the virus”, a totally different scenario from the return to school in 2020, when the virus circulated very little among children and from youngsters to children. Adults.
For this reason, the hospital pediatrician and infectious disease specialist recommends continuing to vaccinate adolescents, increase the protection of teachers, school personnel and parents, and “reinforce prevention measures in schools”, with a policy of testing “much more frequent, more effective in detecting cases early ”.
Four levels of sanitary measures (green, yellow, orange and red) were defined in a protocol published on July 28.
The national Ministry of Education must announce in the coming days the level defined for schools, colleges and high schools based on the degree of circulation of the virus.
For the authors of the article, it would be “unthinkable to consider a reactivation in the ‘level 2’ of the protocol (yellow, which plans to receive all students in person), while the incidence rate between 0 to 19 years is five times higher to the return to school in 2020 ”.
The highest alert levels have hybrid classes (face-to-face and remote), which start at the orange level for high schools and at the red level for schools.
A “most normal (school) year possible”
In their article, scientists and teachers recommend maintaining masks from primary school and closing any course, regardless of their school level, as soon as a first case of Covid-19 has been detected.
On the other hand, they point out a “failure” of the protocols regarding air sanitation, calling for “opening windows more frequently”, systematically equipping themselves with CO2 detectors and purifiers, also lamenting that “none of the measures takes into account coffee shops ”.
For the Minister of National Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, “the school must be as open as possible for all the children of France”.
Wishing for a “as normal (school) year as possible”, the minister highlighted, during a trip to the Parisian region, the importance of the campaign that will be carried out from September “for students who would not be vaccinated, as incentive ”. He applauded that more than 52% of adolescents (between 12 and 17 years old) are already vaccinated with at least one dose.
However, the minister excluded a vaccination for those under 12 years of age. “It is an issue that is being investigated worldwide” but “at this time, it is not on the table,” declared Minister Blanquer.
The American laboratories Pfizer and Moderna have already started clinical studies in the United States in more than 12,000 children, the first results of which will be known at the end of September, with authorizations expected by the end of the year.
This article was adapted from its original in French