What is the real count of coronavirus infections in Switzerland?

What is the real count of coronavirus infections in Switzerland?
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
With doubt cast on official infection figures, how widespread is the coronavirus in the Swiss population?

Ever since the outbreak of coronavirus, tallies of confirmed infections have been viewed with scepticism. 

This is primarily because these figures are completely reliant on how widespread a country’s testing regime is

UPDATE: What you need to know about the coronavirus crisis in Switzerland

In theory, if a country completes no coronavirus tests, it will have no confirmed infections with the virus – even if death tolls are rising. 

‘Five times higher’

A study completed by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, estimated that the rate of true number of coronavirus cases in Switzerland is five times higher than the current number of confirmed infections. 

Using the figures, the Tages Anzeiger estimated what the true figures would be for Switzerland and the 26 cantons. 

The tally is determined by reference to a country’s death count, or Case Fatality Ratio (CFR). As at Thursday, April 16th, there are 1,242 deaths from the coronavirus in Switzerland. 

With Switzerland’s confirmed tally at approximately 26,500 on Thursday, April 16th, this means that according to the study the actual count is likely to be higher than 132,000. 

Cantonal differences

Given the diverse impact of the coronavirus in each Swiss canton, there are also likely to be significant differences in infections across the country. 

In Ticino – where the death toll has been the highest in Switzerland – only 12 percent of coronavirus cases have been properly confirmed with a test. 

Ticino has had just under 3,000 confirmed cases, which means that the likely tally is approximately 25,000. 

In Valais, which has 1,700 cases, this is assumed to be 20 percent of the case total – meaning the real total is approximately 8,500. 

Conversely, in Zurich – where the rate of testing has been much higher – the official figure of 3,100 is assumed to be around 40 percent of the actual total. 

As a result, the number of people infected with coronavirus in the country’s most populous canton is expected to be 7,750 

 


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