without vaccination, the number of deaths would have been double in France

A woman receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 in the Vacci'bus mobility bus, in Ajaccio, April 28, 2021.

Stem the flow of contamination, reduce the burden of mortality. The impact of lockdowns and other measures restricting social contacts, on the one hand, and of vaccines, on the other, has been quantified in a new study in France, over the period between March 2020 and October 2021. Published on February 2 in the journal Epidemicsthese estimates confirm the extent of the effectiveness of these two health shields deployed against Covid-19.

The first confinement, in particular, reduced the number of new contaminations by 84%. As for vaccines, they prevented 159,000 deaths between the end of 2020, when the first RNA-based formulations appeared, and October 2021. Without them, mortality linked to the epidemic would therefore have more than doubled, since Covid- 19 killed, over the same period, 116,000 people, estimates INSEE.

This modeling work also confirms “the importance of rapid decision-making in the event of an emerging epidemic with exponential diffusion”, underlines Rodolphe Thiébaut, from the University of Bordeaux (Inserm and Inria), who coordinated the study. If the first confinement had been established on March 10 instead of March 17, 2020, when the first wave swept across France, 13,000 to 26,000 lives would have been spared, the study shows.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers The impact of Covid-19 on mortality in France better known

“Only modeling makes it possible to ess the impact of different measuresexplains Mahmoud Zureik, professor of epidemiology and public health at the University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin (Yvelines). The approach followed here is clic and generally robust, with inherent limitations. »

Weather data

The authors started from a model capable of reproducing the dynamics of the epidemic. “It is an approach which estimates the evolution of the transmission rate of the virus and its different variants”, indicates Rodolphe Thiébaut. The scientists calibrated this model with data regularly published by Public Health France, department by department, over the period studied: new cases of Covid-19 confirmed by PCR test, admissions to hospital, in conventional or critical care, related deaths to Covid-19. They also integrated meteorological data, particularly the effect of temperature, into this model.

To ess the impact of the various measures implemented over time, they compared the evolution of transmission rates with the timing of the measures taken: more or less strict confinements, curfews; school closures; simple barrier gestures…

Results: the first confinement was the most effective, reducing transmission by 84%. The second slowed it down by 74% and the third, “which had confinement in name only”, slips Mahmoud Zureik, by 11%. A curfew at 6 p.m. or 8 p.m. respectively reduced the risk of contamination by 68% and 48%.

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