Coronavirus in Switzerland – Negative tests may no longer qualify for the Covid Certificate

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When the number of cases increases, the effectiveness of the health pass decreases. The task force gives ways to make the document more reliable, in order to avoid contamination.

The document could become an “immunity certificate” to gain efficiency.

20min/Taddeo Cerletti

The summer may be rather calm with few deaths and hospitalizations, certain signs are not wrong: the situation is deteriorating, noted Tuesday, the FOPH, during its press conference. “Cases are doubling every week. The bar of 1000 contaminations per day will be reached at the latest at the start of the next week”, said Patrick Mathys, head of the Crisis Management section.

Problem of “false negatives”

An increase in cases without an increase in hospitalizations…no problem, then? No, believe the scientists, particularly as regards the effectiveness of the health pass, which can be obtained thanks to negative antigenic tests, the sensitivity of which is imperfect.

“The higher the number of cases in the population, the greater the risk that a person has a false negative and goes to a demonstration and then infects other people who test negative,” explained Samia Hurst, bioethicist and vice-president. chair of the task force. Multiple contaminations in clubs have already been listed in Switzerland. And the risk will increase as cases increase in the general population.

French way envisaged

Several solutions now exist to continue to prevent contamination with the Covid certificate: there is the French way, with the extension of its use to places such as bars and restaurants. “This is one of the measures that can be considered by the Federal Council”, recognized Patrick Mathys.

But there is another option: require a more sensitive PCR test to obtain a certificate… or no longer issue one at all to those tested. Because granting them the pass knowing that they were potentially contagious “was a known risk and was a political choice”, summarized Patrick Mathys. The document could then become an “immunity certificate”, reserved for vaccinated and cured persons.

Plant the seeds

“It’s a political decision,” insisted Samia Hurst. “It will be up to the Federal Council to decide,” dodged Patrick Mathys. But the seeds are planted in minds. Because the situation was reversed: in the spring, the vaccination took off, the cases decreased. Now, vaccination is decelerating, cases are accelerating. “The reservoir of non-immune people is worrying”, noted Samia Hurst, not excluding in fact “an even stronger wave than that of the fall of 2020”.

“So we have to take advantage of getting vaccinated now,” urged Samia Hurst, saying that if the number of immune people is not enough, the new wave that is beginning will face us with a choice: accept restrictions, or accept an overload of vaccines. hospitals.

The list of countries on return from which it is necessary to quarantine has not changed: only the United Kingdom, India and Nepal are there, because they were the first affected by the Delta variant. However, since then, it has become the majority in most European countries, including Switzerland, and the criteria for placing countries on the list are losing their relevance. “There are currently no plans to revise or modify them”, however indicates a spokesperson for the FOPH. Alain Berset had recently ruled out adding affected countries such as Portugal or Russia to the list, justifying it by the fact that Switzerland would join the ranks of countries subject to the Delta variant. In all likelihood, the Swiss should be able to go on a quiet vacation and the list should not undergo any major changes in the coming days. Currently, 1044 people are in quarantine after returning from travel.

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