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Infectiologist, veterinarian, virologist... Who are the members of the new scientific committee?

This is not a new name for a vaccine against Covid-19.

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Infectiologist, veterinarian, virologist... Who are the members of the new scientific committee?

This is not a new name for a vaccine against Covid-19. But the pandemic is still likely to be in all the heads of the members of Covars, the "committee for monitoring and anticipating health risks", successor to the Scientific Council created to deal with Covid-19. This body responsible for making recommendations in the face of a health threat or crisis is now complete, with 18 members. Until then, only the president of this committee created on July 31, 2022, the immunologist Brigitte Autran, had been chosen.

The "health risk monitoring and anticipation committee" has 18 members, including 15 scientists or health professionals - 12 men and 3 women -, according to a decree published this Thursday, September 29 in the Official Journal, a few hours from its installation. official by the Ministers of Health François Braun and Research Sylvie Retailleau. They are appointed for a period of two years, renewable once.

This committee is "composed of different scientific expertise making it possible to assess the risks as a whole, and also their physical, psychological and societal consequences", explains the Ministry of Health in a press release published on Thursday.

Some former members of the Scientific Council will be part of it, including virologist Bruno Lina, infectiologist Denis Malvy, modeller at the Institut Pasteur Simon Cauchemez, veterinarian Thierry Lefrançois. The Covars will also include a former member of the Vaccine Strategy Orientation Council (COSV) - a council chaired by Alain Fischer, also dissolved -, Mélanie Heard, head of the health center of the Terra Nova think tank.

Among the newcomers, we find Patrick Giraudoux, a specialist in "wildlife ecology and ecosystem health", professor emeritus of ecology at the University of Franche-Comté. There is also a deputy head of emergencies from the Nice University Hospital, Julie Contenti. Last July, she was one of the many doctors to have alerted to the situation of the hospital on the eve of the summer holidays, recalls Le Parisien. Also included in the Covars is a general practitioner, Olivier Saint-Lary, or a specialist in sexual and reproductive health, Annabel Desgrées du Loû, who is also a member of the National Ethics Committee.

In addition to these specialists, there are two patient representatives, Yvanie Caillé, founder of the Renaloo association (and former member of the COSV), and Cécile Offerlé, member of Aides, as well as a citizen representative, Véronique Loyer, volunteer director at the Claude Pompidou Foundation. This composition "reflects the diversity of scientific disciplines and approaches necessary for monitoring and anticipating health risks", welcomes the Ministry of Health.

“From the next few weeks”, the Covars will decide “on the resurgence of the Covid-19 epidemic or the projections attached to the epidemic of Monkeypox (monkey pox) but also polio or dengue for example”, the ministry said in the statement.

The Covars succeeds, with a broader aim, the Scientific Council created in 2020 and chaired by Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, which ceased to exist with the lifting of the state of health emergency at the end of July. This “permanent, transparent and independent committee exercises a role of independent expertise and advice with the aim of informing the decisions of the public authorities”, recalls the Ministry of Health.

The Covars, whose opinions will be made public, "will work on the challenges of anticipating and preventing health crises and their consequences on the population (scientific watch, prediction and modelling, recommendations for reducing risks, taking charge of and supporting our fellow citizens)", adds the Ministry of Health. This body's mission is to monitor "the health risks linked to infectious agents affecting humans and animals", "environmental and food pollutants" and "climate change".

This global vision is increasingly defended by a number of public health specialists. It is called "one health" by its promoters. In other words, "thinking about health at the interface between that of animals, humans and their environment, on a local, national and global scale", specifies on its website the National Research Institute for Agriculture, food and the environment (Inrae).

“This way of approaching health in the current global context of the Covid-19 pandemic makes it possible to reason with the entire system and find solutions that respond to both health issues and environmental issues”, explains he.

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