FOR MEMBERS

Why Switzerland’s Covid cases are skyrocketing despite vaccinations

Similarly to 2020, more people are contracting coronavirus this fall.
The number of Covid infections is soaring in Switzerland, but hospitalisations remain low. Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels
The number of new daily infections is rising quickly, mirroring trends from 2020. Will Swiss authorities act to rein in the spread of the disease?

On Friday, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has reported 3,922 new Covid cases registered in Switzerland since the previous day.

This number is four times higher than daily contaminations detected in the country in mid-October. In fact, they are at the same level now as they were in the fall of 2020, when the epidemiological situation was deteriorating rapidly.

At that time, the Federal Council introduced mask mandates outdoors in all areas where “the concentration of people does not allow the necessary distances to be respected”, along with 11 pm curfew for bars and restaurants, the closure of nightclubs and discos, as well as the limit of 10 people for private gatherings and 50 for public events.

People were asked to leave their homes only if strictly necessary, while quarantines and other restrictions were in effect for those returning from foreign travel.

Why are Covid infections on the rise in Switzerland again?

At that time, Covid vaccines were not yet available, so why are infections rates similar now, even though more than 73 percent of Switzerland’s population over the age of 12 is now fully inoculated against the disease?

The increase is detected mainly in cantons of central and eastern Switzerland, such as Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Nidwalden, Schwyz, Uri and St.Gallen, where the rate of vaccinations lags behind the national average.

“It’s a bit like raining all over Switzerland. Some cantons have umbrellas, others don’t, so some regions are wet, and others not”, virologist Didier Trono explained in an interview with Swiss news outlet RTS.

Another expert, Julien Riou, an epidemiologist at the University of Bern, concurs. He said some cantons “have much more vaccination coverage than others”, accounting  for “the current explosion of cases”.

This means that southern and western Switzerland, where the rate of inoculations is higher, have registered fewer cases.

Another factor which does not cause infections per se but plays a role in spreading the virus is the weather.

Patrick Mathys, head of the crisis management section of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), pointed out that the number of cases goes up as soon as colder weather sets in, driving more people indoors, where the virus circulates and contaminates more easily.

READ MORE: Switzerland’s Covid cases are soaring again. Here’s why

Will Switzerland implement new restrictions to rein in the spread of coronavirus?

The Federal Council has not indicated any such plans for the immediate future because hospitals and intensive care units are not overcrowded at the moment.

“There are many more cases, but there are proportionately fewer hospitalisations, fewer severe cases and fewer deaths, so we could say that this wave is going to do less damage”, Riou noted.

Officials believe this is because the vast majority of those who are most at risk of Covid-related complications  — the elderly and people suffering from serious chronic illnesses — are vaccinated, with booster shots now being administered to those groups.

More than 88 percent of people over the age of 70 have been inoculated, according to FOPH.

They are also are pinning their hopes on the positive results of the “Vaccination Week” that is taking place throughout Switzerland from November 8th to the 14th.

READ MORE: What will Switzerland’s ‘vaccine week’ look like?


Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.