Covid-19: Swiss authorities disagree on vaccine-related mortality data

Funerary staff in Lausanne collect the body of a person who died of the coronavirus, April 2020. Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

Swiss authorities reported a total of 19 deaths due to Covid-19 vaccinations in 2021. The regulatory body responsible for approving the vaccines in Switzerland takes a different view, saying there is no evidence to support that toll, according to the public broadcaster SRF.

This content was published on April 23, 2023 - 15:55

The Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO) this week published figures documenting different causes of death among Swiss residents in 2021. They included 19 elderly people who died because of Covid-19 vaccinations. In other words, a physician noted vaccination as the primary cause of death on the person’s death certificate.

Federal authorities had contacted the doctors in all cases for more information. "Confirmation was obtained that the cause of death was not a concomitant cause, but that the cause of death was confirmed to be the Covid-19 vaccination," said Rolf Weitkunat, an epidemiologist at the FSO.

In contrast, Swissmedic, the regulatory agency that tested and approved the vaccine, says there has not been a single proven death from the vaccine to date. Swissmedic has investigated more than 200 suspected cases, including the 19 cases documented by FSO.

"Swissmedic is looking for a possible causal relationship and to achieve this goal we request all available documentation,” explains Christoph Küng, head of the drug safety division at Swissmedic. For example, the medical history of the deceased person is also taken into consideration.

 "We often have queries to the family doctor, to the physician,” he adds. “We go to the professional literature. We consult internationally."

When available, autopsy reports were analysed by Swissmedic. However, none were available for the 19 cases. Autopsies are useful because they provide valuable clues about the cause of death, according to pathologists. So how was Swissmedic able to make conclusions about the 19 cases without autopsies?

“Where we already have sufficient information to assess the case, we can even dispense with the autopsy,” Küng says. "And it must also be said that autopsies do not always lead to a conclusive result either."

  + Covid vaccination sceptics urge probe into mortality rate

Clearly proven deaths as a result of jabs against Covid-19 are rare anywhere in the world –  although multiple studies on the topic based on autopsies exist. Conversely, many of these studies are unable to completely rule out a possible link between deaths and vaccination, according to SRF science editor Daniel Theis.

 "This still leaves room for speculation,” he says. “Therefore, it is important to be able to look more specifically at such cases in the future to get more clarity.”

About six million people were vaccinated with a Covid-19 vaccine in Switzerland in 2021.

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Discover our weekly must-reads for free!

Sign up to get our top stories straight into your mailbox.

The SBC Privacy Policy provides additional information on how your data is processed.