Bouncing back from a coronavirus infection, a Swiss testimony

With the number of fatalities caused by the coronavirus rising exponentially, it is easy to overlook the number of people who have recovered. To date more than 98,000 people have overcome the virus. It's assumed they are now immune.

This content was published on March 23, 2020 - 17:40

One of them is Bettina Sooder. She was the third person officially diagnosed with Covid-19 in Zurich. "It was a strange feeling because suddenly you are a danger to others. You also feel lonely," she says.

The 26-year-old probably got infected in Italy, during Milan’s famous Fashion Week. On her return, a colleague advised her to take a coronavirus test. The first case in Switzerland had only been identified the day before. 

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She remained in isolation at the Zurich University Hospital for four days. Then she continued her quarantine at home for another then days.  Sooder got a call from the doctor every day and after being free of symptoms for 48 hours, she was declared recovered and able to work again.

Still, many didn't want to get too close to her yet. "You get a little stigmatised. And people are already avoiding me because they are afraid of being infected, and I understand that."

Sooder works as a doctor's secretary in a fertility clinic in Zurich. But now she makes the most of her immunity and takes blood from the patients. As a trained health worker, she’d like to offer her services to a hospital should her current place of work shut down.

Marcel Salathé, Head of the Digital Epidemiology Lab at Lausanne Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), says that recovered people will soon play a very important role: "Not just for the health system, but for the overall system. Those who are immune will no longer be affected by the virus."  

According to Salathé, they could bring the entire health system back into action. "They can take over important positions from those who are infected or are at risk of getting infected,” he says.


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