As anticipated, lockdown-free Switzerland experienced a very sharp increase in corona-related excess mortality in November (see graph below). The overall mortality in November – around 0.098% – corresponds to a very strong flu month, as last seen in January 1983, 1997 and 2000. A comparable November mortality was last seen in 1957 during the Asian flu (see below).
However, the median age of Swiss corona deaths remains very high, at 88 years for women and 83 years for men. In contrast to strong flu seasons, there is still no excess mortality under the age of 65. This extreme age gradient is the reason why Covid seems to be a “strange pandemic”.
(Nevertheless, even young and healthy people can suffer from protracted pneumonia or pronounced post-viral fatigue due to SARS-CoV-2 in about 5% to 10% of cases.)
The following graph compares the cumulative monthly mortality (as a percentage of the population) of 2020 with some peak years since 1950: the strong seasonal flu waves of 2017, 2015, 2000 and 1951, the flu pandemics of 1957 and 1968/1969 (against both of which vaccinations were available within a few months), the flu and heat year of 2003, and the flu and heroin year of 1990. For reasons of space, much stronger flu years such as 1929 and 1918 are not shown.
The following figure shows the cumulative mortality from January to November (excluding December) for the years from 1900 to and including the corona year 2020 (the increase at the very end of the curve). Daily corona deaths have decreased slightly since mid-November 2020, but antibody prevalence is assumed to be only 10% to 20% in most regions of Switzerland.
In total, about one in ten deaths in Switzerland this year was due to corona. Cancer was almost three times more frequent and heart disease almost four times more frequent than corona.
Switzerland still does not have a prophylaxis and early treatment concept that would reduce corona-related hospitalizations and deaths by up to 80% according to international studies. In fact, Swiss authorities and advisory bodies have repeatedly spoken out against such early treatment. Instead, they have relied on ineffective masks, problematic mass PCR tests and an inefficient contact tracing app.
The utilization rate of intensive care units in Switzerland is around 80%, a basically normal value, which was also achieved by reducing the number of non-urgent operations. In addition, there are significant regional differences: the utilization of intensive care units has so far ranged from around 60% in Graubunden to temporarily close to 100% in some western Swiss cantons.
Switzerland’s comparatively liberal and “self-responsible” approach to the Corona pandemic is also attracting – often critical – interest internationally: see for example the reports of German ARD and ZDF. Germany, for its part, is finding it difficult to back out of the “short-term lockdown”, which has already been extended until January, without risking a renewed increase in infections, especially since the corona virus season lasts until April.
Ultimately, the aim is to protect the population without achieving a Pyrrhic victory.