Swiss ICUs at ‘highest capacity’ since Covid pandemic began

A person with tubes coming out of their body in an ICU.
Switzerland's ICU capacity is currently at its highest utilisation rate ever, the Federal Office of Public Health revealed. Photo: BARBARA GINDL / APA / AFP
Switzerland’s intensive care units (ICUs) hit as high as 82 percent capacity this week, which is the fullest they have been since the start of the pandemic, while four in five hospital admissions are unvaccinated.

Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health reported on Thursday that the nation’s intensive care units are fuller than they have been at any time in the Covid pandemic. 

Half of those in Swiss ICU beds have been admitted due to Covid. 

Switzerland has also hit its highest ever seven-day Covid incidence, which is the figure used to determine how many cases there are per 100,000 in the general population. 

Switzerland now has “the highest incidence since the start of the pandemic”, according Health Minister Alain Berset, referring to Switzerland’s current rate of 741. 

For a comparison, Germany’s seven-day incidence is currently around 350, in France around 500 and in Italy around 200.

‘Highest incidence ever’: Where are Switzerland’s Covid hotspots?

Surge in ICU patients

Over the past week ICUs have seen a surge in Covid patients, with 15 percent more Covid patients needing ICU treatment than the week before. 

There are currently 273 patients admitted due to Covid in Switzerland, which authorities warn is dangerously close to the mark of 300. 

211 of those are on ventilators, which is 20 percent more than the previous week. 

As The Local reported earlier in December, Swiss ICUs are unable to add any more beds due to staff shortages. 

EXPLAINED: Why are Swiss hospitals full despite fewer patients than 2020?

Four out of five Covid hospital admissions are unvaccinated

Since January 27th when the vaccination campaign kicked into gear, 77.5 percent of Covid patients admitted to Switzerland’s hospitals are not vaccinated against the virus. 

2.5 percent were partially vaccinated, with the remaining 20 percent having had two shots of the vaccine. 

Over the same period – i.e. since vaccinations have begun – 1635 people whose vaccination status was known have died from Covid. Of those, 69 percent were unvaccinated, five percent were partially vaccinated and 26 percent had received both doses of the vaccine. 

94 percent of those who died despite being fully vaccinated were over 70. 


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