Since the beginning of the year, 3,000 more people than expected have died in Switzerland, something that experts are struggling to explain, reported 20 Minutes.
In 2020, 1,500 more people had died than expected by the end of August. In 2021, the same number was 1,300. This year the difference is 3,000 extra deaths, more than double the gap in previous years.
Part of the explanation is a quirk of the forecast. The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) forecast fewer deaths in 2022, following the spike in deaths caused by Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021. But this unlikely to explain all of the difference because there were more deaths over the three summer months of 2022 than over the same periods in 2020 and 2021.
Two theories, possibly together, for the unexpected deaths are heatwaves and Covid-19. Epidemiologist Christian Althaus from the University of Bern thinks Covid-19 infections combined with heatwaves could be behind higher deaths. Heart disease is made worse by Covid-19. This in turn makes a patient more vulnerable to high temperatures. Martin Röösli, another epidemiologist, thinks former Covid-19 patients might also be more vulnerable to the effects of heatwaves.
However, at this stage Switzerland’s unexpected deaths remain an open question.