How does the current wave compare to previous ones?

How do confirmed covid cases translate into hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths, now that many people have been vaccinated?

By comparing the proportion of confirmed cases that lead to hospitalizations, intensive care admissions and deaths with previous waves – when the population was unvaccinated – we can learn more about the protection provided by the vaccine against serious consequences. of covid.

This is what the graph below shows. It shows the main indicators of the epidemic, expressed as a percentage of the peak reached during the second wave, in November 2020.

Find this graph by canton, as well as all the key figures of the pandemic updated continuously in our covid-19 dashboard.

At the beginning of last December, Switzerland counted more than 9,000 new daily confirmed cases, more than during the epidemic peak of the previous winter. However, the number of hospitalizations and covid patients treated in intensive care remained half as low as at the height of the second wave. This apparent decoupling between infections and deaths, thanks to vaccination, has been discussed on many occasions. in our columns

What is also striking with these curves is the great contagiousness of Omicron. As elsewhere in the world, cases have exploded since this variant has supplanted the Delta variant. In Switzerland, this was already the case before Christmas.

Possible hospital overload

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Although the data on Omicron seem to confirm its lesser severity compared to the previous variants, its very high transmissibility and therefore the very large number of people infected could result in a significant increase in new care in the hospital and in the services. intensive care.

“With infections doubling every eight to ten days, between 80 and 300 new Covid-19 patients could end up in intensive care per week at the height of the Omicron wave”, declared Tanja Stadler, president of the covid task force. of the Confederation at the press point of the Federal Office of Public Health this week.

According to different projections, the epidemic peak of Omicron cases should be reached between mid and end of January in Switzerland. With the decoupling between infections and serious forms of the disease, it is more the hospital capacity figures, in particular those of intensive care, which will have to be closely monitored during the coming weeks. Due to the usual delay of two to three weeks between infection and possible admission to hospital, hospitalizations could therefore increase until mid-February.

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