Created in mid-March 2020, at the request of Emmanuel Macron, this ad hoc committee of around ten scientists will leave the stage on July 31. France will then officially end the state of health emergency, while the seventh epidemic wave seems to be in a descending phase and the executive insists that we must learn to “live with” the virus.
The final opinion of the Scientific Council, around fifty pages published on Wednesday, is neither “a testament nor a feedback even though the epidemic is not over”, but rather a “compass”.
For two years and four months, accompanied by “more than 300 meetings” and multiple interventions in the media, its members issued advice, in particular nearly 90 opinions or notes on the health situation and the means of countering epidemic waves.
Infectiologists, epidemiologists, caregivers, specialists in the human sciences (anthropologist, sociologist), reinforced after a few months by six other experts (geriatrician, veterinarian, child psychiatrist, etc.) carried out a delicate exercise, between science, pedagogy , and health management.
The executive is far from having always followed their recommendations, or else delayed for certain confinements. It has also delayed several times in issuing its opinions.
Two and a half years after the start of an “unprecedented crisis” linked to Covid-19, in which “the sometimes complex relations between science and politics” appeared, the Council outlines scenarios for the coming months because the pandemic “is not not finished”.
For the health authority, a gradual decrease in the impact of SARS-CoV-2 is possible, thanks to the immunity of the population post-vaccinations and post-infections, but with “peaks of circulation of the virus in the short term “.
At the same time, it alerts to several “points of attention”: the “public health problem” of long Covid, mental health, “hospital exhaustion” with “deleterious effects on care” and on the response to future epidemic waves, the situation of the “fragile and precarious”, immunocompromised, elderly.
The situation overseas but also in the poorest countries also remains worrying, according to the Council.
After the end of July, a “committee for monitoring and anticipating health risks”, beyond the Covid pandemic alone, must take over from the Scientific Council.
The government has yet to formalize the creation, a priori by decree, and the composition of this body placed under the Ministers of Health and Research.
The Scientific Council pleads, in its last two opinions, for “multidisciplinarity” to remain one of the characteristics of the future monitoring committee. It also stresses, among other things, the importance of the human and social sciences, links with research, and even sustainability.
He also suggests the creation in the fall of a “Science Council”, a group of high-level scientists, to enlighten the executive “on the progress of science, regardless of the crises”.
The pilot of the successor to the Scientific Council is not yet known, but it will certainly not be Professor Jean-François Delfraissy.
“I have only thought of Covid for 24 months, it is time for a new vision, it is time to hand over”, slipped at the end of June, on the radio, this immunologist who will remain one of the figures of the health crisis.