This week, 13,983 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in Switzerland, up 35% from the 10,386 recorded the week before. On a 7-day moving average basis, the number of daily new cases was 1,998.
This week, the number of people entering hospital in Switzerland with Covid-19 was slightly lower than the week before. Over the last 7 days, 165 Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospital with Covid-19 compared to 178 during the prior 7 days. Recent hospitalisation numbers suffer from a significant time lag. The number hospitalised over the prior week rose from 119 to 178 (+50%) once the information came in and records were updated. Once the numbers are in for this week, they are likely to rise.
This week Covid-19 deaths were down. 21 deaths were recorded over the most recent 7 days compared to 40 over the prior 7 days. There is also a time lag on these numbers. Deaths last week rose from 31 to 40 (+29%) once the figures were updated. Deaths also trail case and hospitalisation numbers.
The unvaccinated continued to make up the majority of those hospitalised with Covid-19 this week despite making up a relatively small percentage of those at risk of severe illness – close to 90% of those over 70 have now been vaccinated. Over the last 7 days 32% of people hospitalised with Covid-19 in Switzerland were recorded as fully vaccinated.
Overall, Switzerland’s vaccination rate has barely risen over the last month, rising only 2 percentage points to 66% since early October 2021.
On 4 November 2021, Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, warned of a difficult winter if the region does not react. Every single country in Europe and central Asia is facing a real threat of Covid-19 resurgence, or already fighting it, he said. Over the past 4 weeks, Europe has seen a greater than 55% increase in new Covid-19 cases – in Switzerland, the number has more than doubled over the last 4 weeks.
Of most concern is the rapid increase in the older population groups, which is translating into more people with severe disease and more people dying. Currently, 75% of fatal cases are in people aged 65 years and above, said Kluge. Across Europe, hospitalisation admission rates due to Covid-19 have more than doubled in a week, he reported. If we stay on this trajectory, we could see another half a million Covid-19 deaths in Europe and central Asia by the first of February next year, according to one estimate, he said. On this trajectory, 43 countries in the European and central Asian region will face high to extreme stress on hospital beds at some point through the same period, said the WHO director.
According to Kluge, the reasons behind the resurgence are insufficient vaccination coverage and the relaxation of public health and social measures.
European nations with low vaccination rates are getting hit hard. Russia, with only 34% of its population fully vaccinated, has seen nearly 33,000 Covid-19 deaths over the last month. Given the country’s unreliable statistics, this figure could be higher. An excess deaths1 estimate by number crunchers at The Economist puts Russia’s Covid-19 death toll so far at more than 904,000, close to 4 times the official number.
Overall, Switzerland’s vaccination rate has barely risen over the last month, rising only 2 percentage points to 66%. However, nearly 90% of the population over 70 has been vaccinated in Switzerland. The data also show that the link between case numbers and deaths has weakened. The ratio of deaths to cases was around 2-3 times higher at this time last year than it is now.
According to Dr Kluge, countries with low vaccination rates, such as many nations in central and eastern Europe have seen a greater resurgence in cases, hospitalisations and deaths. The four nations with the highest Covid-19 death toll yesterday include Russia, Ukraine and Romania, three nations with low vaccination rates. The percentages fully vaccinated in Romania (34%), Ukraine (18%) and Russia (34%) are all below the world average (39%).
The last time Dr Kluge raised the alarm with a similar public statement was on 15 October 2020. By the following February, an extra 7,300 people had died in Switzerland during the deadliest period of the pandemic.
The difference today is that we know more and we can do more. We have more tools and means to mitigate and reduce the damage to our communities and society, said the director. However, the current situation and alarming short-term projections should trigger us to act, he said.
1Excess death calculations are considered by many to be more accurate than official Covid-19 death tallies because they avoid double counting people that would have died even if they hadn’t caught Covid and capture those who died from Covid-19 without being tested. However, they are not perfect.