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Despite the easing of the eighth wave of the coronavirus in France, the country’s new health risk assessment body has warned that the rapid spread of the BQ.1.1 sub-variant of Covid means uncertainty for the coming months.

Covars, the name given to the newly formed scientific council advising the government on the Covid strategy, is tasked with anticipating future crises as well as managing existing ones.

Its 19 members – experts in infectious disease, virology and immunology among other medical fields – issued their first first opinion on Monday, warning of the need to reduce the impact of Covid and winter infections while protecting the fragile health system.

Crooked surge

After the start of the school year in September, the curve of the virus, driven by the BA.5 subvariant, rose again, leading to an eighth wave and an infection rate of 576 per 100,000 people.

Kovars said the surge was “probably” related to a combination of factors, including a decline in herd immunity, climatic conditions conducive to the spread of the virus and the reopening of schools.

It warned that the rapid rise of the BQ.1.1 variant in France could lead to a large number of infections, including among vaccinated or already infected people.

So far, the strain that was discovered in mid-September is responsible for 15 percent of cases.

The risk of complications or death is similar to that seen with the BA.1 and BA.2 subvariants, which cause the fifth and sixth waves of the virus.

Since the beginning of the year, there has been a cascade of Omicron sub-variants, to the point where it has been called “alphabet soup”.

Kovars also warned that other infectious diseases are making a comeback this winter, including the flu, bronchiolitis and gastroenteritis.