The experts of the Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force address urgent issues regarding the COVID-19 crisis in Policy Briefs, which are published on our website. They reflect the thinking of the Taskforce on this topic at that time. If required, the policy briefs are updated in the light of new studies or other data.
Populated by crowds of young, mobile people gathered in closed spaces for extended periods of time, academic institutions represent a potentially propitious setting for the spread of Sars-CoV-2 both during academic and extracurricular activities.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of clinical trials assessing therapeutic options for Covid-19 have been included in international registers.
Travelers, including Swiss residents, are a sentinel population for SARS-CoV-2 transmission in Switzerland because they arrive from countries that might have higher levels of infection than Switzerland.
Prevention of spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Switzerland in summer 2021, in the context of variants of concern and vaccination
Measures to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 work best in combination and when the number of incident cases is low.
Recent studies have characterized the decay kinetics of SARS-CoV-2 specific B and T cell responses after vaccination or infection. They estimate that neutralizing antibody IgG titers decrease with a half-life of around 100 days, while T cell responses seem to be longer lived with a half-life or around 150 days.
Considerations for an alert system for infectious diseases, focus on COVID-19: a scoping review of tier systems used in other countries and current data.
Many countries and regions around the world use frameworks, known as tier (also known as traffic light, or alert) systems, to respond to changes in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (see list of government sources at the end of this document).
The role of children (≤12 years of age) and adolescents (13-17 years of age) in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic: A rapid review
Children of all ages and adolescents can be infected by, and can transmit, SARS-CoV-2.
An epidemic of delays: Estimating the impact of releasing control measures on the backlog of admission in intensive care units in Switzerland.
A hidden burden of the covid-19 pandemic is the delay of procedures when intensive care units (ICU) need to be cleared in anticipation for epidemic waves.
Intensified testing for SARS-CoV-2 in the community involves repeated screening for asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in specific target groups.
Alongside droplets and fomites (i.e., surface-based transmission), aerosols are recognized as one of the vectors of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (1,5).
The right to life and physical and mental health must be upheld throughout the legal system, including labour law.
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Covid-19 Vaccines: Process to determine priority and allocation & National and International Responsibilities for Access
This document was finalized on 11. November 2020 before the first vaccine was approved in Switzerland.
The transition away from the global pandemic situation may lead to new public health approaches aimed at allowing a fast restart of the economic and social life while controlling the risk transmission of Sars-CoV-2.
Requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccination (Vaccine “Passports” / ”Certificates”): Key ethical, legal, and social issues
Health measures to limit the transmission of SARS-CoV2 aim to protect people against the risk of becoming ill.
Several clinical trials evaluating repurposed or novel drugs for therapy/prevention of Covid-19 have been published since the writing of the first version of this policy brief in August 2020.
Currently, individuals who have been in close contact with a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 case are obliged to go into quarantine until 10 days after the presumed last exposure (here referred to as strategy 0).
In January 2021, the state of Bavaria ordered the mandatory wearing of filtering facepiece 2 (FFP2) masks on public transport and in shops to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, especially the new variant B.1.1.7 (British variant).
Over the pandemic second wave, trust in authorities’ decisions is lower than in Spring 2020 and social consensus on how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic has eroded over the summer.
Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome Temporally Associated with SARS-CoV-2 (PIMS-TS; Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, MIS-C) in Switzerland
Contrary to elderly adults, most pediatric COVID-19 infection occur asymptomatically, and severe disease in children has remained extremely rare.
This policy brief is to clarify the potential use and efficacy of face shields in the current COVID-19 pandemic. Face shields are distinct from face masks, and offer different advantages and disadvantages.
Protecting older persons in long-term care in the context of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic while maintaining quality of life.
Residents in residential long-term care have a higher risk for complications and mortality when infected with SARS-CoV-2 due to their frailty and multimorbidity.
In light of the results of the third survey of the Swiss Corona Stress Study, referring to the period from 11 to 19 November 2020, during which 11,612 people from all over Switzerland participated, we are updating the policy brief on the mental health consequences of the pandemic.
The issue of operating schools in the pandemic is very complex. From kindergarten and primary school through higher education, the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 vary widely, as do educational, social, and health-related (both physical and mental) concerns.
Since the beginning of the second wave of covid19, the number of non-covid19 patients in intensive care units has decreased from a baseline of 650 patients to a minimum of 302 patients (15.11.2020). Elective procedures have been delayed in multiple cantons.
Masks are recommended where social distancing cannot be respected, and mandatory in certain enclosed spaces such as public transport, as well as schools, and shops in certain cantons. They are protective of the wearer and especially of others, and as such are part of the bundle of measures needed to keep the COVID19 pandemic under control.
Testing strategy for children (0-12 years of age) and quarantining strategy of children and adolescents in Switzerland
This document supports the aim to keep compulsory schools open wherever possible, and for upper secondary and tertiary level students to be preferably taught online during times of high transmission in specific areas.
In October-November, the Romandy became a COVID19 hotspot in Switzerland and in Europe.
Considerations regarding the duration of quarantine for people with possible exposure to SARS-CoV-2 infection
This policy brief addresses questions about the duration of quarantine.
This policy brief summarises the most important current study results of COVID-19 disease and possible long-term consequences.
This rapid review identifies the risk factors for hospitalization, ICU admission, development of severe disease and mortality in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic raises additional challenges for businesses in sectors that are affected by non-pharmaceutical policy interventions and/or by collapsing consumer and intermediate demand. Wages continue to be compensated through well-established policy instruments. However, since the discontinuation of the Covid-19 bridging credits in July, no policy tool has so far been activated to support affected businesses with respect to their fixed capital costs.
The TTIQ strategy aims at identifying index cases through testing, tracing their contacts as well as potential clusters that are potentially the source of their infection, and to isolate cases and quarantine contacts. Based on lessons from the start of the second wave, we make 8 recommendations aimed at ensuring the scalability and efficacy of TTIQ in Switzerland.
Estimating the economic costs of avoiding COVID-19 transmission through quarantine and testing of travellers arriving in Switzerland 1
Travel-related quarantine regulations are a widely used tool to contain the spread of the pandemic. A quantitative assessment of the associated costs and benefits has not yet been attempted and would be helpful in designing future policy measures.
This policy briefs analyses the benefits of greater support for contact tracing and Covid-19 testing.
This fact sheet describes how SARS-CoV-2 was identified and isolated and provides an update on virus detection tests currently utilized in Switzerland.
This Policy Brief provides evidence and describes conditions for aerosol-based transmission of SARS-CoV-2, and summarizes recommendations to minimise it.
Clarification on face mask types, architecture, quality, handling, test and certification procedures
This policy brief clarifies differences between mask types, respective norms and certification processes for masks currently available in Switzerland.
This document defines the test methods and minimum requirements for Swiss mask manufacturers. This update also contains recommendations for the use of community masks.
This Policy Brief addresses the legal basis in the context of the fight against the epidemic, in order to ask contact persons about the use of the SwissCovid App.
Given that SARS-CoV-2 is likely going to be circulating during influenza season, this Policy Brief discusses which strategies need to be in place and why they are important in order to protect risk groups.
This Policy Brief discusses immune responses (antibodies, T cells) against SARS-CoV-2 and if they confer protection against re-infection.
This policy brief explains that an ‘infection strategy’ (‘Durchseuchung’) would lead to major damage in health, economy and society.
This Policy brief identifies how the government can support investment activities of companies and in that way foster the recovery of the economy and structural change.
This policy brief discusses therapeutic options for COVID-19 and their effects in reducing COVID-19-associated mortality.
This Policy Brief presents the current state of the international evidence on the economic costs and benefits of fighting the pandemic, the so-called health-wealth trade-off.
This document is a rapid systematic review and meta-analysis of the role of children (0-18 years) in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and is an update of the previous policy brief on the same topic. In this updated version more emphasis was placed on trying to distinguish the situation of children (0-12 years of age) from that of adolescents (13-16 years) and young adults (>16 years).
To inform about and guide appropriate behaviors by the population, effective communication strategies must be integrated into the pandemic response. This document explains, why effective communication is critical, what the current priorities for communication are, and what factors influence message receptivity and behavioral compliance by the population.
This policy brief discusses measures for dealing with travellers arriving in Switzerland and measures to reduce the risks of imported COVID-19.
This policy brief analyses private costs, private benefits and public benefits from the digital proximity tracing app use, and make recommendations for public information around the app. In this updated version, section 3.4 was slightly re-worded to avoid the potential misunderstanding of what the authors call “active choice” solution.
National Covid-19 Science Task Force alarmiert über den rapiden Anstieg der Zahl der SARS-CoV-2-Infektionen in der Schweiz
SARS-CoV-2 infections are currently increasing at an alarming rate in Switzerland. The National COVID-19 Science Task Force makes urgent recommendations for immediate measures for the population, organisations and authorities.
This policy brief reviews the evidence for the benefits of wearing face masks in community settings for reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
This document discusses strategies to react to a possible increase in the number of SARS-CoV-2 infections in Switzerland.
This document focuses on the problem of non-conforming face masks and provides specific recommendations to actors in the Swiss supply chain.
The National Covid-19 Science Task Force (ncs-tf) was mandated by the Federal Council Coronavirus Crisis Unit KSBC, the FOPH and the SERI to provide scientific perspectives for decision-making during the SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 crisis. Here we focus on the future role of ncs-tf after the transition from extraordinary to special situation and the related dissolution of the crisis unit in June 2020.
This policy brief introduces the concept of a labor market “epidemic” curve to measure the amount of “excess” job search in the labor market, where excess refers to job search that occurs above normal conditions.
This policy brief discusses the importance of real-time sequencing and phylogenetic analysis in COVID-19 monitoring.
This policy brief discusses the risks of SARS-CoV-2 for healthcare workers and presents possible solutions.
Betreuung betagter Menschen während der Covid-19-Epidemie: Wie sie ohne Einschränkung ihrer Rechte geschützt werden können
This document describes the basic principles of care for the very elderly and people with health problems in the context of the Sars-CoV-2 epidemic and Covid-19 disease.
This document examines the psychological effects of confinement and deconfinement.
This document discusses other aspects of the use of masks and the importance of Aeresol transmission.
This policy brief discusses the importance of seasonal/ climatic factors in the transmission of SARS-Cov-2.
This policy brief discusses the strategy that Switzerland should adopt to control the spread of the virus until a vaccine or effective treatment becomes available.
This policy brief discusses options to repay the government debt resulting from the COVID-19 crisis.
This policy brief identifies ways to achieve widespread and uniform testing across Switzerland.
This document describes proximity tracing in more detail, specifically with respect to the proximity tracing app planned in Switzerland.
This Policy Brief discusses gender aspects of COVID-19 and pandemic response.
There is a lot of interest in the approach to COVID-19 taken by Sweden. In this Policy Brief we compare the measures taken to control the epidemic in the two countries after May 11 2020 , as well as relevant epidemiologic and economic indicators.
This Policy Brief discusses the social costs and benefits of the Testing, Isolating, Tracing and Quarantining (TITQ) strategy.
This document discusses the ethical, legal, and social aspects of Test-trace-isolate-quarantine strategies. It complements the Policy Brief “SARS-CoV-2 Contact tracing strategy: epidemiological and strategic considerations».
This document (in German and French) gives an assessment of the possible consequences of the relaxation of 11 May for the development of COVID-19 case numbers in Switzerland.
This document examines the ethical, legal, and social aspects associated with the continued confinement of those most vulnerable to COVID-19.
This document lists ongoing studies on vaccines and treatment of COVID-19 in Switzerland and beyond.
This policy brief discusses risk factors associated with hospitalization, ICU admission, and mortality in the context of COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 infection.
This policy brief examines the implications of public matching payments for commercial rent abatements during the COVID-19 crisis.
This policy brief provides recommendation for healthcare facilities in Switzerland for sterilizing protection FFP masks following the norm EN149 (FFP1‐3, N95, or equivalent) with vapor hydrogen peroxide.
This policy brief summarizes: the rationale for contact tracing and for quarantine of contacts; differences between classic person-based contact tracing and digital proximity tracing; the role of virological testing; and social and ethical considerations.
This document looks at the economic costs of contact tracing in relation to its potential benefits.
This document examines the ethical, legal, and social aspects of serological passports. It discusses possible limitations and highlights important aspects to be considered in advance.
This document discusses the effect of the governmental measures on the epidemic dynamics of COVID-19 in Switzerland.
This document summarises the findings on facemasks as a non-pharmaceutical intervention against infections due to respiratory viruses. reMask is an expert group working to provide for Switzerland evidence-based information and propose innovative solutions around the use and production of face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This document elaborates on how phylogenetic analyses can be used to contribute to the epidemiological and evolutionary understanding of SARS-CoV-2.
This policy brief reviews the potentials and limitations of serological testing in Switzerland and outlines the priorities for future research.
This document describes why temperature screening is not useful as a stand-alone measure. It also emphasizes the importance of the motivation for testing.
This document describes the concepts and proposals developed by the Task Force to ease the measures against the COVID-19 epidemic in Switzerland.
This document summarises the main ethical, legal and social benchmarks for transition strategies.
This document briefly explains possible modelling options to illustrate the effects of the relaxation of control measures against the COVID-19 epidemic in Switzerland, which came into force on 26 April.
This living systematic review discusses the role of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 who have an asymptomatic infection.
This document summarises the recommendations of the Task Force for healthcare facilities on the storage of FFP (Filtering Facepiece Particles) face masks.
This document presents the first descriptive analysis and modelling of the Swiss epidemic based on FOPH’s data on daily-confirmed COVID-19 cases by canton, age and sex and the daily number of negative tests.