This week, 3,033 new Covid-19 cases were recorded in Switzerland, nearly double (+89%) the number the week before (1,609). The daily number of cases on a 7-day rolling average was 433. The faster spreading Delta variant made up 83% of all samples sequenced in Switzerland on 5 July 2021.
The number of Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths in Switzerland remains low and stable. 14 people were reported being admitted to hospital in Switzerland with Covid-19 this week, up from 9 the week before. Across the week there were 4 deaths, the same number as the week before. By the end of the week, Switzerland’s total Covid-19 death toll had reached 10,902.
A concern now is the exposure of Switzerland’s unvaccinated population to the virus as cases rise. The age profile is lower for many in this group, so hospitalisation and long Covid are the main risks.
At the same time around 20% of those over the age of 70 have not been fully vaccinated in Switzerland. In some Swiss cantons the rate is higher. In Obwalden, only 49% of over 80s have been fully vaccinated and only 57% of those aged 70 to 79.
In the UK, which is leading the way on the latest wave on infections, hospitalisations (+47%) and deaths (+48%) have risen faster than cases (+33%) over the last 7 days. However, the ratio of hospitalisations and deaths to cases is significantly lower than earlier waves. On 15 July 2021, the UK recorded 63 Covid-19 deaths. At a similar point during the previous wave, the UK was recording between 400 and 500 deaths a day. The UK’s high rate of vaccination (68% at least one dose) appears to have weakened the link between cases and severe disease.
Overall, 43% of Switzerland’s population is fully vaccinated and 52% have had at least one shot. The rate of vaccination has slowed sharply in recent weeks. The percentage of the population with at least one dose barely moved this week, remaining at 52%. Most of the shots administered now appear to be second doses. Few seem to be stepping forward for their first shot.
To counter falling vaccination rates, the Federal government recently unveiled its plans to spend CHF 6 million promoting vaccination.
As the SARS-CoV-2 virus becomes more infectious, as it has over the last year and a half, the threshold for herd immunity rises, making it a more and more difficult target. It is possible that rising infectiousness and falling vaccination rates make herd immunity unattainable. Under this scenario the world would have to learn to live with the disease, managing its spread and health impacts forever, with measures such as regular vaccinations, improved ventilation and air filtering in public spaces and the targeted use of masks. This is probably not the end some envisioned.