Covid spreads among Switzerland’s youth as vaccination impact becomes clearer

The weekly report released by Swiss health authorities on Thursday shows that the number of cases has dropped slightly but there have been more Covid-related deaths. Infections are now far more common among younger people.

Covid spreads among Switzerland's youth as vaccination impact becomes clearer
More Covid-related hospitlisations have been reported in the past week. Photo by Fabrioce Coffrini / AFP

During the week of March 29th to April 4th, 12,284 laboratory-confirmed cases were reported, against 12,555 the previous week, according to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

This represents 2.2 percent fewer infections than the week before, with the current incidence of 142.1 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Of the 8,016 samples analysed, 96 percent were identified as one of the mutations of the virus, predominantly the British variant.  

As the colour-coordinated map below shows, by far the most cases  (817,37 /100,000) were found in Uri.

It is important to note that the increase in the number of detected cases over the past month may be due at least partly to more frequent and widespread testing.

The proportion of tests carried out during this period rose by 8.7 percent.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Switzerland’s free coronavirus tests for every resident

Regarding the age groups, young people between 10 and 29 years were the most affected.

However, those over 70 were the least impacted, possibly thanks to increasing rates of vaccination among the elderly, FOPH said.

More hospital stays and deaths

Last week, 373 people were hospitalised due to Covid, against 329 the previous week. The number of Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care (171) remained stable.

There has been an increase, from 48 to 60, in the coronavirus-related deaths. Zurich recorded the most deaths (12), followed by the cantons of Vaud and Aargau (8).

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

Though Covid has not been a nationwide problem in Switzerland during recent several months, the virus is circulating again and rates of contamination are expected to soar in the coming weeks.

'Over a million people' in Switzerland could be infected with Covid this summer

While the new wave has not been expected to hit before fall or winter,  Swiss health officials now say 15 percent of Swiss population — more than 1 million people — could catch the virus before then.

This is a large number, considering that a total of 3.7 million people in Switzerland got infected since the beginning of the pandemic on February 24th, 2020.

“More than 80,000 new contaminations per week” are expected in the next two months, according to Tanja Stadler, the former head of the Covid-19 Task Force — much more than during the past two summers, when the rate of infections slowed down.

At the moment, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) reports 24,704 new cases in the past seven days — double of what it was in April.

“The numbers are expected to continue to rise. Note that most of infected people will not be tested, so the number of confirmed cases will be smaller on paper than in reality”, Stadler added.

Although according to FOPH, nearly all cases in Switzerland (99 percent) are caused by Omicron and its sub-variants, which are less severe that the original Covid viruses, “more vulnerable people are likely to end up in hospital, and long Covid cases are also likely to rise”, she said.

Stadler also noted that Omicron virus can’t be compared with the flu, “because we observe long-term consequences much more often during an infection with Omicron than during the flu. Also, Covid can trigger very large waves, even in summer, while large flu outbreaks are rare at this time of year”.

There is, however, some positive news.

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

Also, “in the long term, things will stabilise. But in the years to come, there will probably be waves in the summer too”.

READ MORE: UPDATE: When will Switzerland roll out second Covid boosters?