This is how the summer wave develops in Switzerland

The summer wave of Corona has hit Switzerland, and the numbers are rising sharply again. But there are also reasons that still give hope.

06/21/2022, 18:0106/21/2022, 18:07

Rito Ver


The summer wave swept Switzerland. Recently, the number of cases has increased rapidly. On June 7, there were 53 per cent more cases reported than the previous week (hospitalization -27 per cent), on June 14 there were another 45 per cent more than the week before (hospitalization +33 per cent) and today the Federal Office of Public Health I mentioned BAG 24,704 new infections in the past week, which is a 56 percent increase compared to the previous week. On the other hand, hospitalizations “only” increased by 11 percent.

Without a doubt: The sixth wave of Corona hits Switzerland. But how is this current situation evaluated?

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Case numbers are rising sharply

The number of cases was only twice higher than now: in the second wave in the fall of 2020 and the fifth in January 2022. The reason for this is BA.5 in particular. Together with variant BA.4, the virus is currently spreading rapidly. Epidemiologist Christian Althaus said a week ago that he assumed “about 15 percent of the population will have BA.5”.

The number of hospitalizations is only slightly increasing

However, the number of cases alone is not very meaningful. The number of unreported cases is likely to be high, as not all of them can be tested for a long time (see point 3).

Hospitalization is more critical to the situation. These increased in the past week and are now rising again (+11 percent), but they are at a relatively low level.

The relationship between the number of cases and hospital admissions also shows that a large number of cases does not necessarily mean a large number of hospitalizations. These have been separated from each other over the course of months. In the second wave in October 2020, about 5 out of every 100 people who tested positive still had to go to hospital, and in January 2022 the number was less than one. After a slight increase, we have been well below 1 again since the end of May 2022.

Few tests, high positive rate

As mentioned earlier, there is almost no test left. There are currently as few tests in Switzerland as there were before the second wave in October 2020.

That should change somewhat in the next few days, but as the very high positivity rate shows, the number of unreported cases is currently high. The World Health Organization once described the 5 percent value as problematic, now we’re back to over 40 percent – and the curve is going up sharply.

Switzerland overview:

This is how hospitalizations relate to case numbers

It should be noted that hospitalizations usually increase with a slight delay compared to the number of cases. It remains to be seen how this will develop in wave BA.5. In South Africa, there were almost no hospitalizations, recently they have increased significantly in Portugal.

In Switzerland, it is currently clear that fewer hospitalizations are required per case. We ignore the first wave in March 2020 here. At that time there was not enough testing.

If you index the positive tests and hospitalizations with their highest values ​​(hospitals October 30, 2020, cases January 24, 2022), you can see that in the second, third, and fourth waves, the curves rose roughly in parallel and hospitalizations exceeded their maximum. In some cases significantly.

This was different in the fifth wave. Hospital admissions initially increased, but then reports of infection “exceeded” hospitalizations significantly. So Omikron brought fewer people to the hospital.

There are various reasons for this development. The vaccination campaign succeeded, basic immunization was also available to those who had not been vaccinated due to corona diseases, and the virus hardly found more people who were not at least partially immune. In addition, more young people became infected in the fifth wave, and fewer ended up in hospital.

How does the sixth wave develop?

Will hospital numbers remain low or has the trend begun to reverse? Epidemiologist Jean Vere said in an interview with Watson that unvaccinated people end up in hospital (about 30 percent of the population). Vaccination currently provides very limited protection against infection, but in the vast majority of cases against a severe course of the disease.

So Veer does not assume that the number of cases will currently rise in the same way as last fall: “The starting point is very different from what it was at the time. Practically all residents of Switzerland had some form of contact with the Corona virus and antibodies in their blood – whether it was from through natural infection or through vaccination.”

Virologist Isabella Eckerl also hopes the current wave won’t be too big and won’t be reflected in hospitals, she told Migros Magazine. However, there are still risks, for example for Long Covid, which still raise some question marks.

He also explained today in a long thread on Twitter how long immunity to Covid-19 continues and why it doesn’t make sense to say now: I’m going to get infected again anyway, and then sooner rather than later until I can. Build long lasting immunity. Because: “Every infection gives the virus the opportunity to develop new variants. Unfortunately not #COVID19 now or later but now and later.”

For former FTA chief Tanya Stadler, it’s clear in an interview with “Blake” that infection won’t prevent the fall wave. “The wave may be a little weaker. However, it is also possible that by that time we will have a new variant where the previous infection will not be of much benefit.” After all, Stadler says she’s not afraid to overload current viral variants in intensive care units.

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