Swiss doctors sound alarm over sharp rise in Covid patients

An intensive care team looks after Covid patients at the Triemli hospital in Zurich on December 10, 2020. Keystone / Gaetan Bally

A Swiss doctors’ association has warned of a “very steep” rise in the number of seriously ill Covid-19 patients - mostly unvaccinated - in intensive care in the past few days. Many of them are young people.

This content was published on August 19, 2021 - 12:50

“Health teams in intensive care units, who have been extremely busy for the past 18 months, risk being again exposed to increased pressure,” the Swiss Society of Intensive Medicine said in a statementExternal link on Thursday.

It said it could not rule out a further shortage of intensive care staff, which would lead to a worsening situation in intensive care units.

Since the end of June, the number of new reported coronavirus infections has been rising in Switzerland to over 3,000 a day. The growth is largely due to the highly infectious Delta variant affecting unvaccinated people, mainly in the 10-to-29-year-old age group.

The number of daily hospital admissions across the country has risen tenfold from 2-3 in July to around 30. On Tuesday, it was reported that 500 people were being treated in Swiss hospitals for Covid-19. Around 70% of intensive beds are occupied, 14% by Covid patients. The number of Covid-related deaths remains at a low level.

In an interview this week, Tanja Stadler, the new head of Switzerland’s Covid-19 science taskforce, said the current virus situation was “very difficult”. She said that if the number of hospital admissions doubled again three times in the next month, as it did over the previous month, “then we will be at the same level as during the worst period of the second wave [last autumn]”.

Vaccinated v unvaccinated

In a separate analysis of public health statistics, Swiss public radioExternal link, RTS, reported on Thursday that the number of Covid hospital cases among fully vaccinated people in Switzerland was 12 times lower than that of the unvaccinated. Their study looked at the period from July 1 to August 15.

During this period, there were 8.3 hospital admissions per million residents among those who had been fully vaccinated against Covid. Among non-vaccinated people, this rate was 105.9.

The latest health ministry statistics show that between the end of January and middle of August, 122 people were hospitalised due to Covid despite being fully vaccinated. Of these, 23 died - 21 of them were over 80 years old.

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