"62.4 percent of tests showed a profile compatible with the Omicron variant" at the start of this week, compared to 15 percent the previous week, the agency said in its latest weekly survey published late Thursday.
The Omicron variant's advance was expected because it is highly contagious and has become dominant in other European countries including Britain and Portugal.
The strain has contributed to the current flare-up in cases, which topped 200,000 in the 24-hour period from Wednesday to Thursday.
French hospitals are now caring for 18,321 Covid-19 patients, including 1,922 new admissions between Wednesday and Thursday, with more than 3,500 people in intensive care.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Faced with the wave of infections, the government announced Monday new curbs to make people work from home and imposed limits on the numbers attending public events.The virus has claimed 123,552 lives in France since it was detected in China in late 2019.