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Swiss experts play down risk of Delta virus variant

masked people queuing
The spread of the Delta variant has delayed easing restrictions in the UK, but Swiss experts are not worried about it for now. Keystone / Andy Rain

Switzerland is well prepared for the Delta variant of Covid-19 and there is no reason for particular concern at the moment, says Christoph Berger, head of the Federal Commission for Vaccinations.

In an interview with the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, he acknowledged that this variant is more contagious than others, but  said people vaccinated twice with a messenger RNA vaccine are almost 90% protected.

Berger also stressed that the situation was different in Switzerland to the UK, for example, where the Delta strain of the virus has delayed plans to relax restrictions. The British authorities vaccinated many people as quickly as possible with one dose, which was probably the right thing to do at the time, he said, but today you need protection with two injections.

Berger told the paper that the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines used in Switzerland have also proven to be much more effective against the new variant than other vaccines, such as the AstraZeneca one which is widely used in the UK.

Situation improving

The Delta variant, sometimes known as the Indian variant, has become dominant in some countries but currently represents only 2% of positive cases in Switzerland. Virginie Masserey, head of infection control at the Federal Office of Public Health told Swiss broadcaster RTS on Sunday that the spread of the Delta variant must be slowed down for the time it takes to vaccinate the population.

But she said the coronavirus situation in the Alpine country has been more reassuring in recent weeks. “Currently, the variants we know are about 50% more contagious, which makes them perhaps a little more difficult to control,” Masserey told RTS. “The real marker of concern is the rate of hospitalisation and ICU occupancy. For the moment, the situation is calm on that front.”




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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR