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COVID-19

Covid in Switzerland: How common are hospitalisations and deaths among the boosted?

Despite some teething problems, Switzerland’s Covid booster campaign is in full swing. New data shows the effectiveness of booster shots in preventing infection and death.

Nurses wait to administer jabs
Booster jabs are effective in preventing hospitalisation and death in Switzerland. Photo: VALENTIN FLAURAUD / AFP

Switzerland’s booster campaign began in November, but has only recently hit full swing.

Just over a third (34.89 percent) of the Swiss population are vaccinated. While some have complained about difficulties in accessing booster jabs, in most cantons those who want a third shot have received one.

ANALYSIS: Will Switzerland’s sluggish booster shot rollout worsen the pandemic?

In addition to the protection of the vaccine, experts also believe the Omicron variant leads to less severe courses of the virus.

How well do booster shots work in Switzerland?

The booster shot programme was rolled out in Switzerland and elsewhere due to evidence that protection tends to wane several months after a person receives their second shot.

Experts believe the booster is effective in preventing the spread of the virus, including new variants such as Omicron, but also in reducing many of the serious and potentially life-threatening symptoms of the disease.

Covid in Switzerland: ‘It is possible that we’ve reached the peak’

Figures released by the Federal Office of Public Health and published in the NZZ newspaper, Switzerland’s government department charged with leading the pandemic response, on January 18th show the effectiveness of the boosters, particularly among vulnerable groups.

Since the start of 2022, hospitalisations among those aged over 60 due to Covid are 20 times higher among the unvaccinated than those who have been boosted.

Hospitalisations are three times higher among the fully vaccinated, in comparison to those who have received a booster jab.

Per 100,000 residents, 92.5 unvaccinated people (aged over 60) have been hospitalised with Covid in Switzerland.

This compares to 16.1 of fully vaccinated (per 100,000) and 5.3 of the boosted (per 100,000).

The difference in death rates is similarly stark, with death rates 25 times higher for the unvaccinated when compared to the boosted.

While 24.8 (per 100,000 people aged over 60) have died, just 0.9 of those with a booster have died. The fatality rate for fully vaccinated but not boosted is 3.6, which is still more than six times lower than the rate for unvaccinated people.

The study only looked at people aged over 60, as people in this age bracket have had easier access to boosters and they are considered to be more vulnerable to serious courses of infection.

The study took into account statistics from both Switzerland and Liechtenstein, which are considered together in FOPH data.

The period of the study is the three weeks until January 18th, 2022.

The official page of the Federal Office of Public Health, which includes statistics on vaccination, infection, death and hospitalisation, is available here.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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