Are there really only 40 patients per 100,000 inhabitants in France?

The passage of Laurent Toubiana, researcher at Inserm, on CNews Thursday, December 23, caused a reaction on social networks. He was speaking about the rise in cases of Covid-19 and the Omicron variant. « The figures report 40 patients in one week per 100,000 inhabitants in France, » he said.

Information that has challenged many Internet users given the latest data which show more than 900,000 cases detected in 24 hours in the country, a record since the start of the pandemic. Under the Twitter publication of the news channel, shared several thousand times, while some have understood that the figure is wrong, others believe that the government is manipulating the announced figures.


As he indicated during his speech, researcher Laurent Toubiana relies on figures from the Sentinels network. It is a network, made up of approximately 1,300 voluntary general practitioners spread over all regions, which is responsible for reporting health data, mainly infectious diseases, for research and epidemiological studies.

On the second page of the weekly bulletin, it is indeed possible to read that for the week of December 13 to 19, « the incidence rate of ARI [Infection respiratoire aiguë] due to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) seen in general medicine consultation has been estimated at 39 cases per 100,000 inhabitants ”.

But the data from the Sentinelles network are integrated into the overall national surveillance coordinated by Public Health France, and therefore, does not list data relating to Covid-19 in hospitals or nursing homes. The figure announced by Laurent Toubiana should therefore not be confused with that of all Covid-19 patients in France.

The epidemiological point published on the site of Public Health France for week 50, on which the researcher is based, reports an incidence rate of 550 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. An increase of 8% compared to the previous week. Data which includes the figure announced by Laurent Toubiana which represents only the cases identified by general medicine.

As of December 20, these indicators were already slightly up with an incidence rate of 565.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Note that this is a rate that covers the entire population. It is highest for the 30 to 39 age group with 838.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Figures that are doomed to increase given the record for the number of positive people reached on December 23.

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