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Why is Switzerland’s Covid certificate for recovery valid only six months?

Why is Switzerland's Covid certificate for recovery valid only six months?
Covid certificates are now part of life in Switzerland. Image: FOPH
Swiss authorities have set time limits for Covid certificates. But why does the post-recovery validity differ from that after full vaccination?

The expiration date of certificates issued to fully vaccinated people is exactly one year after the second dose. This date is included in both digital and paper versions of the document.

However, certificates for those who have recovered from the disease expire after six months.

Why is that?

These dates were set by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) based on available data showing how long the immunity lasts after infection versus vaccination.

Initially, health officials believed that patients who recovered would be resistant to the virus for three months, which was revised to six months after new studies were done.

At the same time, and based on new evidence, the validity of post-vaccine immunity was set to one year.

Right now, the certificate issued after recovery “is valid from the 11th day after the positive test result and lasts for 180 days from the date of the test result”, FOPH said.

There is a caveat, however: the certificate can be issued to recovered people only if their infection was confirmed by a PCR rather than antigen test.

“If your Covid-19 infection was solely confirmed by a rapid antigen test, it is not possible to issue a Covid certificate under the EU regulations”, FOPH states.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Swiss government rules antigen tests invalid for Covid health pass

What can you do to extend the validity of your recovery-based certificate?

The only way to do this is to get vaccinated with one dose of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

This can be done as quickly as four weeks after a confirmed coronavirus infection, according to FOPH.

The certificate’s validity will then be extended to 12 months from the date of the shot.

This may be especially pertinent as the use of the Covid certificate is now extended to nearly all indoor venues in Switzerland, and could be required for travellers entering Switzerland from September 20th.

READ MORE: Travel: Switzerland to announce new entry rules from September 20th

Having a valid certificate will exclude arrivals from testing before and after entering Switzerland, or a quarantine.

As the learning curve about how long the illness or vaccines protect against re-infection is still steep, the validity of Covid certificates could be extended or shortened as new information becomes available.


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