After hard autumn and winter – “Corona could be over in Switzerland in spring”

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Experts agree: autumn and winter will be difficult again, everything depends on the speed of vaccination. The chances are good that the pandemic in Switzerland will end in spring.

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Experts give hope: the Covid pandemic in Switzerland could definitely be over by spring.

20min / Sonja Mulitze

But Switzerland has yet to face a hard winter.

But Switzerland has yet to face a hard winter.

20min / Marvin Ancian

As soon as it gets colder again, the number of cases will rise - and with it the hospitalizations, so the experts fear.

As soon as it gets colder again, the number of cases will rise – and with it the hospitalizations, so the experts fear.

20min / Marvin Ancian

  • Around 60 percent of the Swiss population are currently vaccinated. So that there is no collapse in the healthcare system in autumn and winter, we have to get to 80 percent in two months, says an expert.

  • Either way, the coming months will be another challenge.

  • In spring, however, the positive effects of the high number of infections could become apparent.

  • The chances are good that by then enough people will have been immunized through infections and vaccinations to for the most part dispense with measures.

Urs Karrer is chief physician at the Winterthur Cantonal Hospital and Vice President of the federal corona task force. When asked how the epidemiological situation in Switzerland could develop, it becomes clear compared to 20 minutes: “We expect the epidemic to accelerate clearly as soon as it gets colder. The delta variant is so contagious that everyone living in Switzerland will come into contact with the virus by next spring. ”

Experts agree that this will happen sooner or later. But that a complete infection could take place by next spring is a clear announcement. If it arrives, it means that all unvaccinated people in Switzerland – including children who cannot yet be vaccinated – will be infected by spring. This harbors dangers, but also hope.

“The goal must be vaccination quota of 80 to 90 percent”

The danger: If a lot of people quickly become infected, the hospitals are threatened with overload. Karrer: “We know that the seasonality of virus transmissions has had a strong influence on the development of the pandemic in Switzerland.” We would see in a few weeks how much this will affect Delta. “So that this acceleration takes place mainly outside the hospitals, we need a significantly higher vaccination rate.” 80 to 90 percent should be the goal.

Huldrych Günthard, infectiologist from the University of Zurich, also says: “It all depends on the speed of vaccination. If we don’t get 80 percent double vaccinations in the next two months, the burden on the health system in winter will likely be very heavy. ” Around 60 percent of the population are currently vaccinated twice.

«This winter could be even worse than the last»

Former task force member Manfred Kopf even fears that it could get worse than last year: “In Israel, the incidence of hospitalizations is almost as high as at the peaks of the second and third waves, despite the high vaccination rate. Old and vulnerable people received the vaccination there two to three months earlier than in Switzerland. One can therefore assume that in two to three months the number of vaccination breakthroughs will also increase sharply in Switzerland and the situation will worsen as a result. ”

One thing is clear: autumn and winter will be difficult again and the health system will probably be put to the test again. Many infections also increase the risk of long covid, and the lack of protection for children in particular is discussed again and again (see below). In spring, however, the positive aspects of this rapid infection process could show up. Infectiologist Günthard: “It may well be that all Swiss people will be immunized by spring. Then there is a chance that the pandemic will end – provided that no new, worrying variants emerge. ”

“Breakthroughs in vaccination hardly lead to severe courses”

Günthard refers to Denmark, Iceland and England: “These countries have more or less declared the pandemic to be over and the majority of the precautionary measures within the countries have been lifted, since 80 to 90 percent of the population are double vaccinated.” In contrast to Manfred Kopf, Günthard is less afraid of vaccination breakthroughs: “Even if such breakthroughs are now observed everywhere in recovered and vaccinated people, they hardly lead to severe courses. If a third vaccination is then approved for older people, the risk of severe disease is even lower. ”

The Federal Office of Public Health also shares the opinion that we will all come into contact with the virus at some point. According to a spokesman, however, the office does not want to commit to a specific point in time. The Geneva epidemiologist Antoine Flahault considers a prognosis for the spring to be impossible: “Today we are not in a position to determine the development of the pandemic more than a week or two in advance. I doubt anyone can do this reliably. ”

No vaccine is currently approved for children under 12 years of age in Switzerland. Various studies suggest that Long Covid, i.e. the occurrence of symptoms such as tiredness, exhaustion, headaches, the loss of the sense of smell or taste, or even shortness of breath, could still occur in children weeks or months after a Covid illness. How often this is the case is still unclear. Parents and teachers have long resisted exposing children to an excessive risk of infection and are calling for stronger measures, especially in schools. The Geneva virologist Isabella Eckerle also recently said in an interview with the “Daily Gazette” (Paid article) that many European countries would take Long Covid in children more seriously than Switzerland.

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