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Coronavirus: the latest numbers

Keystone / Alessandro Crinari

Here is an overview of the most important Swiss-related coronavirus data and graphs, which are updated automatically.  

This content was published on September 22, 2021 - 08:55
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How fast is the coronavirus spreading in Switzerland? We publish a series of graphs on this page, which are constantly updated as new data becomes available. This only happens once a day from Monday to Friday. The sources and the methodology behind the graphs can be found at the end of the article.

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In order to assess the current situation in Switzerland, various data points can be used. The new infections reported daily are often quoted. 

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For the new infections data to be meaningful and for the situation to be correctly assessed, sufficient tests are needed. The available data on the tests show that testing regimes of the cantonal authorities are subject to fluctuations.

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Until now, another important indicator was the proportion of positive tests in all tests carried out, the so-called positive rate. This gave an indication of whether the reported new infections were a good reflection of the situation. If the WHO threshold of 5% was not exceeded, it could be assumed that a large proportion of cases had been detected. However, with an increase in other testing strategies such as the use of rapid, saliva and mass tests, the positive rate is affected - and thus loses significance. This is why the Federal Council, for example, has decided to no longer use the positive rate as a benchmark for measures. We continue to show it, however, because it is nevertheless an indication of how broadly testing is currently being carried out.

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Who is currently infected? This question is important, as the age structure of those currently infected can give an indication of what to expect in hospitals. As a rule of thumb, the younger the infected persons, the milder the disease. This was one of the reasons why the number of cases increased in late summer, but hospital beds remained empty. In the meantime, however, people from more vulnerable age groups are becoming infected again. The following chart shows the proportion of newly reported cases in the various age groups.

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If new infections of older age groups increase, the number of hospital beds occupied by Covid-19 cases can be expected to also increase about two to three weeks later. 

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A good indicator of the end of a wave is the decrease in daily reported deaths related to Covid-19. Because the FOPH has a narrower definition than certain cantons, the cantonal figures are used here. According to several cantonal physicians, these figures better reflect the current situation.

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The global picture

The first countries to administer vaccines started in mid-December 2020, but it could be months or even years before between 50-75% of the population is vaccinated, achieving so-called herd immunity according to various studies. For most vaccines, two doses at least three weeks apart are needed to ensure long-lasting protection. The graph below shows the number of people that have received at least one dose as vaccination regimes vary. For an international comparison we use data from Johns Hopkins University and Our World in Data.

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Sources and Methods

In Switzerland, statistics on the spread of coronavirus come from different sources. Most of the data comes from the 26 cantons, but it is also published once a day by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH)External link. For the number of coronavirus-related deaths, FOPH sometimes publishes statistics a few days later than the cantons.  

Until July 8, SWI swissinfo.ch only published consolidated figures that came directly from the cantons. The source for these figures is an interface run by the Statistics Office of Canton ZurichExternal link, which meets high standards of data quality and availability. Since July 9, SWI swissinfo.ch once again used the FOPH as the source for the number of confirmed cases, as some cantons no longer publish the figures on a regular basis. The statistics for some cantons may be missing due to a delay in reporting figures to the federal health authorities. (The Swiss health authorities also report data for Liechtenstein. FL refers to Fürstentum Liechtenstein.) Since 23 December, for the sake of consistency, the FOPH data has also been used for the figures on deceased persons.

For the international comparison, we use data from Johns Hopkins University, except where figures for Switzerland are shown. For the sake of consistency, data from the FOPH are also used here.

The number of people who have recovered is an estimate based on a formula of the Neue Zürcher ZeitungExternal link. This in turn is based on various models by researchers and the authorities. Since this is an estimate, the number has been rounded off.

The graphs shown here are updated automatically with the latest statistics. For this reason, the figures may change more than once for a single day. It can also happen that cases are added later and the figures change subsequently.

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