According to a former government official in charge of the Covid-19 taskforce, new Omicron subvariants could infect 15% of the Swiss population this summer.
Tanja Stadler believes that while the risk of ICU overcrowding is “low,” more hospitalizations and Long Covid cases are to be expected.
“We anticipate that approximately 15% of the citizens [8.6 million] will be infected – more than one million people,” she said. She also claimed that the vast majority of those affected had not been tested.
The highly infectious Omicron strain’s BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are causing an increase in Covid-19 cases in European countries.
Many cases, according to Stadler, go undetected. According to recent Swiss wastewater analyses, the number of cases this winter is actually higher.
“Over 80,000 new infections are almost certainly occurring every week,” she estimates, adding that the current figure is significantly higher than comparable figures from the previous two summers.
There have been fewer serious illnesses
The World Health Organization (WHO) added two new Omicron sublineages to its monitoring list in March, BA.4 and BA.5, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control designated them as variants of concern.
BA.4 and BA.5 do not seem to be more likely than other forms of Omicron to cause severe disease. Experts warn, however, that an increase in case of numbers due to increased transmission rates may lead to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths.
Despite rising numbers, there are few severe cases in Swiss health facilities, according to Stadler.
As per the most recent data of FOPH, 371 people in Switzerland were hospitalized with Covid in the previous seven days (+16 percent compared to the previous week), with 18 in intensive care (-14 percent).
“According to the most recent statistics, vaccines and infections resulted in antibodies against Covid-19 in 97 percent of the adults in Switzerland,” she said.
According to Stadler, Switzerland should not be concerned about intensive care unit overcrowding. “However,” she added, “as the number of infections increases, more vulnerable individuals will end up in hospitals, and the number of long Covid cases would also increase.” “You must recognize that even a triple vaccination provides just limited protection against the infection.” All pandemic-related restrictions in Switzerland have been lifted since April 1.
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