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Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Thursday

Find out what's going on in Switzerland today with The Local's short round-up of the news.

Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Thursday
More than one-third of doctors in Switzerland are foreign.Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

A single dose of vaccine is enough for some former Covid patients

High-risk people who have had a confirmed Covid-19 and a strong reaction to the first dose of the vaccine will now be able to forego a second dose, according the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

Recent studies show that after the first dose, people previously infected with coronavirus had 10 times more antibodies than those who had never been contaminated, and they remain immune for at least several months.

This single dose will reduce side effects for those affected, and save vaccines for others.

Swiss are less likely to work abroad

Some 44 percent of Swiss people are willing to work in a foreign country, according to a joint survey by recruiting firm and Boston Consulting Group.

Not only is this percentage below the international average, but it is also significantly lower than in surveys carried out in previous years.

For those who do want to work abroad, the most popular country is Germany, followed by the United States, Canada and France.

However, the trend is increasingly to work in nearby countries rather than go farther afield.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What are your chances of getting a job in Switzerland from abroad?

Travel agency offers Covid vaccines to Swiss residents – but in Moscow

People who don’t want to wait for their Pfizer or Moderna shots in Switzerland can now travel to Russia to get inoculated, according to Travel Inside Magazine.

A Norwegian travel agency, World Visitor, is recruiting people from Switzerland, among others, to get Sputnik V vaccines in Moscow.

The agency is offering two options: for 1,499 euros, the tourist will fly to Moscow twice, get the two jabs at the airport, and each time fly right back to Switzerland. This way, no visa to enter Russia is needed.

The second option, which costs 1,999 euros, includes flying to Moscow twice, staying  for four days, and having the vaccine administered in a local hospital.

More foreign doctors are working in Switzerland

Last year, 37.4 percent of all physicians practicing in Switzerland have received their medical training abroad, according to the “Medical Statistics 2020” report released by the Federation of Swiss Doctors (FMH).

These numbers have been rising since 2014, when the percentage of foreign doctors stood at 31 percent.

The majority of foreign doctors come from neighbouring nations:  Germany (52.6 percent), Italy (9.1 percent), France (7.1 percent) and Austria (6 percent).

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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Three scenarios: How Switzerland plans to fight a Covid resurgence

Swiss government has devised three contingency plans that could be implemented to fight a new outbreak. What are they?

Three scenarios: How Switzerland plans to fight a Covid resurgence
Authorities want to prevent overcrowded hospitals if new wave comes. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Although Switzerland relaxed a number of coronavirus rules from June 26th and 28th, “the pandemic is not over”, as Health Minister Alain Berset said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Berset said Switzerland should not become complacent, with last summer a warning against feeling that the battle is won. 

He added, however, that the new wave is unlikely to be as large as the previous ones due to the country’s vaccination campaign.

This situation leaves a degree of uncertainty for which the government wants to be prepared as well as possible, Berset noted.

The Federal Council established a “just-in-case” procedure on Wednesday for three possible scenarios that could take place in the autumn and winter. 

These plans focus mainly on the rapid detection of variants and the continuation of vaccination, testing, and tracing.

The best-case scenario: status quo

In this scenario, the number of cases remains at a low level, though small outbreaks are still possible.

The number of infections may increase slightly due to seasonal factors — the virus is known to spread slower in summer and faster in autumn and winter—  but does not place a significant burden on the health system.

If this happens, no measures beyond those already in place would be necessary.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Is Switzerland lifting its Covid-19 restrictions too quickly?

Not so good: more contaminations

In this second scenario, there is an increase in the number of cases in autumn or winter.

There may be several reasons for this, for example the large proportion of unvaccinated people, seasonal effects — people tend to stay indoors together in cold weather, and contaminations are easier — or the appearance of new, more infectious variants.

This situation could overburden the health system and require the reintroduction of certain measures, such as the obligation to wear a mask outdoors.

Booster vaccinations may also be necessary.

The worst: new virus mutations

In scenario three, one or more new variants appear, against which the vaccine or the post-recovery immunity are less effective or no longer effective.

A new wave of pandemic emerges, requiring strong intervention by the public authorities and a new vaccination.

Which of the three scenarios is most likely to happen?

The government hasn’t said, but judging by the comments of health officials, the latter two are the strongest contenders.

Firstly, because the highly contagious Delta mutation, which is spreading quickly through many countries, is expected to be dominant in Switzerland within a few weeks.

It is expected that the virus will spread mostly to those who are not vaccinated and, to a lesser degree, to people who have only had one shot of the vaccine, according to Andreas Cerny, epidemiologist at the University of Bern

READ MORE: How Switzerland plans to contain the Delta variant

Another concern is related to the appearance of the new variants which could be as or possibly even more contagious than Delta and not as responsive to the current vaccines.

The government said the best chance of avoiding the second or third scenarios is to ensure people are vaccinated. 

“Widespread vaccination of the population is crucial to relieve the burden on the healthcare system and to manage the epidemic. A possible increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the autumn will largely depend on the proportion of the population that has been vaccinated,” the government wrote in a press statement.

The government has also indicating it is preparing for booster vaccinations to take place in 2022 and are encouraging cantons to keep their vaccine infrastructures in place.