This week, 30,254 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in Switzerland, up 36% from the 22,206 recorded the week before. On a 7-day moving average basis the number of daily new cases was 4,322. The last time case numbers were this high in Switzerland was last winter, although the current level is below the peak.
In line with rising cases, hospitalisations are up by probably around 30%. The time lag on data collection makes it difficult to reach an exact figure. The reported figure for last week rose 21% from 228 to 275 once the data came in. If this week’s figure of 298 rises by a similar amount it’ll reach 359, a figure 30% above last week’s 275.
Not being vaccinated remains a key feature of those ending up in hospital with Covid-19. Of those entering hospital between 31 October and 14 November 2021, only 33% were fully vaccinated. Of those aged 40 or over the rate was 36%. This is a relatively small percentage given the current level of full vaccination – more than 80% of those 40 or over are fully vaccinated. Essentially, those 40 or over who are fully vaccinated are entering hospital at a 7th of the rate of the others.
Over the same period, among those 70 and over, 51% of the hospitalised were fully vaccinated. But given that 90% of this age group are fully vaccinated, this means that those who are not fully vaccinated are being hospitalised at 9 times the rate of the fully vaccinated.
Covid-19 deaths were up this week too. Deaths are probably up by around 19%. The time lag on data collection makes it difficult to calculate an exact figure. The reported figure for last week rose 36% from 39 to 53 once the data came. If this week’s figure of 46 rises by a similar amount it’ll reach 63, a figure 19% above last week’s 53.
At the same time, the link between Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations and deaths appears to have weakened. Currently, the ratio of deaths to cases is around a fifth of what it was at the same time last year. High rates of immunity from vaccinations and exposure to the virus appear to have weakened the link.
However, the government is concerned by the situation in neighbouring Germany and Austria. A hospital in Bavaria had to transfer a patient to Italy this week, a first for Germany. According to Spiegel only one in four German hospitals is currently able to maintain a regular intensive care service as daily cases rise well above previous peaks. A third of German residents are not fully vaccinated. Daily new cases are around 50,000 in Germany, roughly double previous peaks. This week, Austria imposed a lockdown on the unvaccinated before extending it to everyone from Monday. Daily new cases in Austria have leapt from around 2,000 to around 15,000 in the space of a month.
Vaccination rates in Switzerland are similar to those in Germany and Austria. By the end of this week, 65% were fully vaccinated with a further 2% partially vaccinated. The rate has risen by only 3% since the end of September 2021. Like Germany and Austria, Switzerland has a well-established anti-vaccination movement, which is supported by some political leaders.
This week, Alain Berset, Switzerland’s minister of health, said that stricter measures were not necessary at present but that the response will depend on the behaviour of all of us and the evolution of the situation in the health system. Berset stressed the importance of respecting hygiene rules. If necessary, the cantons can toughen measures, said the minister. Over recent weeks, cantons in central and eastern Switzerland have been hit harder than the rest of Switzerland. Higher infection rates correlate with lower rates of vaccination in some cases, particularly among older age groups.
The focus of the government remains on vaccination to help limit the circulation of the virus and curb infections. The vaccination offensive continues, said Alain Berset. He also discussed third doses. After 6 months, immunity drops from 90% to 80% among those over 65, he said, so a third dose is a useful boost to immunity.