How will the fourth wave of COVID be different in Switzerland?

How will the fourth wave of COVID be different in Switzerland?

Members of the Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force have warned of a fourth wave coming to Switzerland, especially if vaccination rates remain low.

Warning from Swiss government after “exponential increase” in COVID

COVID cases in Switzerland have doubled three times over the past month, with the past two weeks seeing 25.196 cases in total. The Reproductive number remains high, with the last week recording an R-number of 1,5 - a similar rate of infection seen during the second wave.

"The possibility of the next big wave is definitely there,” said Rudolf Hauri, President of the Association of Cantonal Doctors, emphasising that doctors remain concerned over the new rise in cases. The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) also warned of a new wave, saying that hospital admissions had increased tenfold in a month, although they stress that the healthcare system is not overwhelmed. 

Vaccines can help avoid fourth wave of COVID-19 pandemic

Although cases are still rising, both the FOPH and the Task Force note that, unlike previous waves, the worst of the surge can be avoided through vaccinations. The FOPH reported that 95 percent of patients admitted to hospital in recent weeks had not been vaccinated.

Basel researcher and member of the Task Force, Richard Neher, said that the vaccine is still a “game changer," but that the rate of vaccination has to remain high. "Regions with similarly low vaccination rates as Switzerland, for example, the US states of Texas and Florida, are already facing high case numbers and high hospitalisation rates," said Neher.

Booster jabs “are not yet necessary” in Switzerland

Despite recommendations by Pfizer and Moderna for a third vaccination or “booster jab," Neher doesn’t believe it is necessary yet, stating, “As long as a large part of the world is still waiting for a first or second dose, in my opinion there is no need for a major booster vaccination campaign." The government remains undecided as to when to give vaccinated people a booster jab.

In the meantime, the Task Force is considering whether testing or proof of vaccination should be made a requirement in some settings. Neher states that it made sense to limit access to smaller events for those without proof of vaccination, test, or recovery. He says that an extended requirement could help flatten the wave and convince the undecided to get vaccinated. The FOPH concludes that, although a fourth wave is coming, it is still possible to ward off its effects if more people get the jab.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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