Swiss Covid experts predict return to normal by summer thanks to vaccines

In mid-April Israel rescinded the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors and fully reopened schools in the latest return to relative normality, boosted by a mass-vaccination campaign against the Covid-19 pandemic. Keystone / Abir Sultan

Life could return to normal in Switzerland by summer once half the population gets fully vaccinated, according to Covid experts.

This content was published on May 2, 2021

Switzerland has “bet on the right horses” with the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/Biontech, which are also effective against new variants, according to Steve Pascolo, an immunologist at Zurich University Hospital.

“If 50% of the population receive two doses of vaccine, Switzerland can expect a summer like in Israel,” he told SonntagsBlick newspaper.

Israel has vaccinated over three-quarters of its adult population in just over three months. Infection rates have plummeted, allowing the country to reopen its economy. Israelis are happily resuming routines that were disrupted over 12 months ago.

Sair Reddy, a researcher at the federal technology institute ETH Zurich, agrees with Pascolo: “This is a realistic prognosis. The mRNA vaccines are clearly more effective against mutations. It will be a very good summer.”

Swiss vaccine roll-out

The Swiss vaccination campaign is accelerating nationwide (around 51,000 jabs a day), despite hiccups and delays with deliveries. Some 2.6 million Covid-19 doses were administered between late December and April 28, by which time almost 11% of the population had been fully vaccinated.

The Swiss government has ordered nearly 36 million vaccine doses from five companies. Health regulator Swissmedic has given the green light to three Covid-19 vaccines: from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. But only the first two are being administered.

Switzerland has meanwhile relaxed its Covid-19 restrictions, in a context of stabilising infection and hospitalisation rates. On April 30, the national 14-day incidence was down slightly to 310 new cases per 100,000 residents.

As part of initial easing, restaurants and bars have resumed outdoor services while theatres, cinemas and concert halls can re-open under strict safety conditions.

On April 21, the government outlined a detailed plan for a phase-out from the Covid restrictions. The gradual lifting of the curbs is linked to the response to an anti-Covid vaccination programme.

As a possible next step the Swiss government wants to allow sports and culture events with up to 3,000 spectators from July if the epidemiological situation remains stable.

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