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VACCINES

Switzerland announces timeline to end all Covid restrictions

Swiss authorities indicated that lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in the summer is a possibility, with all measures dropped by August. This is how it could be done.

Switzerland announces timeline to end all Covid restrictions
No masks and no social distance. Could this happen in the summer? Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unspalsh

This best-case scenario is based on the vaccine strategy, which the government says is achievable and under control.

Health Minister Alain Berset said at a press conference on Wednesday that Switzerland will receive 8.1 million doses of the already ordered vaccines from Pfizer / Biontech and Moderna between now and the end of July.

Nearly half a million residents have received both doses to date, and more will be vaccinated in the meantime with the doses already in stock.

That would mean 75 percent of the adult population will be immunised, Berset said.

READ MORE: Switzerland to introduce coronavirus a vaccine certificate ‘by summer’

All vulnerable people should be vaccinated by April 20th, and most others will have received their second shot by the end of June, authorities say.

“We have a good situation. Six months ago no one would have thought that the vaccination campaign would be so advanced”, Berset noted in an interview with SRF public broadcaster.

Virginie Masserey, head of the infection control section at the Federal Office of Public Health, said at the press conference on Wednesday that if no new virus mutations emerge in the meantime, “from August there will be enough people vaccinated so that the restrictive measures are no longer necessary”.

Keen for a vax? This tool shows when you will get vaccinated in Switzerland

Berset also said coronavirus measures could be dropped in the summer. “The goal is to go in the direction of normality,” he noted.

However, some believe authorities are being overly optimistic in their predictions.

“The problem is that large deliveries could come all at once in the summer. I doubt that the cantons will be able to cope with these quantities immediately”, said National Councillor Marcel Dobler.

Another deputy, Jörg Mäder, pointed out that it is difficult to predict whether things will return to normal in summer. “But thanks to the vaccination, this goal is within reach”.

READ MORE : Covid-19 third wave: Which countries in Europe have the tightest restrictions?

Member comments

  1. Calling this vaccine situation “advanced” must be lost in translation. The goal keeps moving farther out into the future. Compared to other parts of the globe, this is …

  2. I do not see why they do not approve AstraZenca vaccine with the stunning results in the UK and USA trials with most of Europe doing a U turn is it arrogance?

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COVID-19

Switzerland: How likely is another Covid-19 wave this fall?

Over the border in France, experts say a new wave of Covid in autumn is 'virtually certain', but in Switzerland authorities seem less worried.

Switzerland: How likely is another Covid-19 wave this fall?

After a relative lull in the pandemic in the spring, Covid-19 cases surged at the beginning of the summer, driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron sub-variants.

The weekly reports on the epidemiological situation from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) show that the number of new cases kept steadily increasing until about the middle of July, when it peaked at about 56,000 new cases reported in Switzerland in a single week.

From then on, the numbers have been dropping steadily, with 18,204 new infections recorded this week.

What can we expect in the coming weeks and months?

One thing we have learned in the past two and a half years is that coronaviruses are unpredictable, and their evolution (or the emergence of new sub-variants) can’t be forecast with a high degree of certainty.

For instance, health experts did not foresee this summer’s outbreak, believing – based on the experiences of previous waves – that infections are more common in the autumn and winter when cold weather drives people indoors.

READ MORE: ‘Over a million people’ in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

It is also difficult to predict what new sub-variants and mutations could emerge in the future, or what properties they will have.

Next wave and hospitals

Health officials in neighbouring France believe that a surge of Covid cases in the autumn is ‘virtually certain’.

Given the geographic proximity and the flow of people between the two countries, it is reasonable to expect the same scenario to unfold in Switzerland as well.

However, Swiss experts say they believe that even if there is a new wave, most people will have only mild or moderate symptoms.

“The most recent data shows that 97 percent of the adult population in Switzerland has antibodies against Covid thanks to vaccinations and previous infections”, said Tanya Stadler, former head of the Covid-19 Task Force.

Based on the current evolution and forecasts, authorities say they don’t expect the health system to be overloaded with new Covid patients.

This is because “circulating sub-variants of Omicron do not cause more severe forms of the disease than the previous sub-variants”, the government said.

Vaccines

A second booster shot of the Covid vaccine (representing a fourth dose for most people) is already available to people in high-risk groups, but while authorities are urging people to get vaccinated, they also say that if Omicron remains the dominant variant, no mass vaccinations will be needed in the near future.

“The current vaccine does not provide clear protection against the Omicron”, according to Giuseppe Pantaleo, head of the immunology unit at Vaud university hospital (CHUV).

That may change soon, however: both Pfizer and Moderna have asked Switzerland’s drug regulatory body, Swissmedic, to authorise their Omicron-adapted vaccines.

The agency is now reviewing the applications but once approved,  the new vaccines are expected to be used for the second round of booster shots, with the rollout for general public to begin sometime in the fall.

READ MORE: Covid boosters not available in Switzerland until autumn

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