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.
COVID-19 social stratification in Switzerland ￼
Since the beginning of the pandemic, social scientists anticipated that the virus and the associated public health measures would exacerbate pre-existing social inequalities.
Comparing COVID-19 infection vs mRNA vaccination in 5-11 year old children
How likely is it that a non-vaccinated or not previously infected 5-11 yo child will be infected with SARS-CoV-2?
Auswirkung des Zertifikats auf das Gastgewerbe
Wir analysieren die Auswirkungen der Einführung des Covid-Zertifikats im September 2021 in der Schweizer Gastronomie.
Protection duration after vaccination or infection, and efficacy of a third dose by vaccination or booster by infection
People who have recovered from COVID-19 are protected from hospitalization at least as well as people who have received two doses of a mRNA vaccine.
Preparing for the academic year 2021-22 in academic institutions
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.
Covid-19 Vaccines: Ethical, Legal and Health Policy considerations regarding different responses to vaccine hesitancy
Vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 significantly cuts the risk not only of disease but also of infection and transmission for vaccinated individuals.
Reduction of Covid-19-associated mortality by drug therapies
Since the beginning of the pandemic, thousands of clinical trials assessing therapeutic options for Covid-19 have been included in international registers.
SARS-CoV-2 prevention and border control measures for Switzerland
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.
Protection duration after vaccination or infection
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.
Considerations for intensified community testing for SARS-CoV-2 in Switzerland
Intensified testing for SARS-CoV-2 in the community involves repeated screening for asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection in specific target groups.
On the use of CO2 sensors in schools and other indoor environments
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).
What can the employee do if the employer does not comply with the protective measures (or plans)?
The right to life and physical and mental health must be upheld throughout the legal system, including labour law.
The economic benefits of an accelerated vaccination campaign
Text in German
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.
Requirements and Scope of Digital Certificates
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.
Policy brief on the reduction of Covid-19-associated mortality by drug therapies
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.
Assessment of different strategies of quarantine
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).
Considerations regarding the mandatory use of FFP masks for the general population
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).
Responses to Corona denial
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.
The use of face shields as personal protective equipment during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic
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.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health in Switzerland
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.
Assessment of measures in schools
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.
The double burden of operating near intensive care saturation in Switzerland
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 as an essential good?
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.
On regional differences in the second wave
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.
Mögliche Langzeitfolgen einer Sars-Cov-2-Infektion
This policy brief summarises the most important current study results of COVID-19 disease and possible long-term consequences.
Risk factors for severe manifestations of SARS-CoV-2 infection
This rapid review identifies the risk factors for hospitalization, ICU admission, development of severe disease and mortality in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Support to businesses in the second COVID-19 wave 1
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.
Scalability and Efficacy Considerations for Test-Trace-Isolate-Quarantine (TTIQ)
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.
The rationale for a substantial increase of resources for contact tracing and testing
This policy briefs analyses the benefits of greater support for contact tracing and Covid-19 testing.
An update on SARS-CoV-2 detection tests
This fact sheet describes how SARS-CoV-2 was identified and isolated and provides an update on virus detection tests currently utilized in Switzerland.
The role of Aerosols in SARS-CoV-2 Transmission
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.
Recommendations on minimal specifications for community masks and their use
This document defines the test methods and minimum requirements for Swiss mask manufacturers. This update also contains recommendations for the use of community masks.
Collecting and Processing Data related to the Use of the SwissCovid App
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.
COVID-19 and the influenza vaccination strategy for influenza season 2020 / 2021
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.
SARS-CoV-2 infection-induced immune responses: meaningful immune protection?
This Policy Brief discusses immune responses (antibodies, T cells) against SARS-CoV-2 and if they confer protection against re-infection.
Widespread community spread of SARS-CoV-2 is damaging to health, society and the economy
This policy brief explains that an ‘infection strategy’ (‘Durchseuchung’) would lead to major damage in health, economy and society.
Tackling weak investment with an adjustment to the COVID-19 credit programme
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.
Impact of therapies against COVID-19 on mortality
This policy brief discusses therapeutic options for COVID-19 and their effects in reducing COVID-19-associated mortality.
Is there a health-wealth tradeoff during the COVID-19 crisis?
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.
The role of children and adolescents (0-18 years of age) in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2
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).
Communication and SARS-CoV-2
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.
SARS-CoV-2 prevention in Switzerland and open borders from 15 June 2020 onwards
This policy brief discusses measures for dealing with travellers arriving in Switzerland and measures to reduce the risks of imported COVID-19.
Digital Proximity Tracing – The View from Economics
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.
Benefits of wearing masks in community settings where social distancing cannot be reliably achieved
This policy brief reviews the evidence for the benefits of wearing face masks in community settings for reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
Strategy to react to substantial increases in the numbers of SARS-CoV-2
This document discusses strategies to react to a possible increase in the number of SARS-CoV-2 infections in Switzerland.
Procurement quality – regulations on non-conforming face masks
This document focuses on the problem of non-conforming face masks and provides specific recommendations to actors in the Swiss supply chain.
Zukunft der Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force
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.
Disruption of the Swiss labor market: 2020 Corona crisis and 2008 Financial crisis compared
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.
Phylogenetic analysis in COVID-19 surveillance
This policy brief discusses the importance of real-time sequencing and phylogenetic analysis in COVID-19 monitoring.
Protecting physical and mental health of healthcare workers
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.
Psychological effects of confinement and deconfinement
This document examines the psychological effects of confinement and deconfinement.
Response to FOPH questions on masks and aerosol transmission
This document discusses other aspects of the use of masks and the importance of Aeresol transmission.
The importance of seasonality and climate on the risk of COVID-19: rapid review
This policy brief discusses the importance of seasonal/ climatic factors in the transmission of SARS-Cov-2.
Strategy to control the epidemic of SARS-CoV-2 in Switzerland
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.
How to repay the government debt resulting from the COVID-19 crisis?
This policy brief discusses options to repay the government debt resulting from the COVID-19 crisis.
Who should pay for SARS-CoV-2 testing?
This policy brief identifies ways to achieve widespread and uniform testing across Switzerland.
Digital Proximity Tracing
This document describes proximity tracing in more detail, specifically with respect to the proximity tracing app planned in Switzerland.
Gender aspects of COVID-19 and pandemic response
This Policy Brief discusses gender aspects of COVID-19 and pandemic response.
Comparison of Sweden and Switzerland
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.
Economic Considerations of Test-Isolate-Trace-Quarantine (TITQ)
This Policy Brief discusses the social costs and benefits of the Testing, Isolating, Tracing and Quarantining (TITQ) strategy.
Social, legal, and ethical issues of Test-trace-isolate-quarantine strategies
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».
Epidemiologische Szenarien nach Lockerung der Massnahmen per 11. Mai 2020
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.
Continued confinement of those most vulnerable to COVID-19
This document examines the ethical, legal, and social aspects associated with the continued confinement of those most vulnerable to COVID-19.
Vaccines and Treatment Studies for COVID-19
This document lists ongoing studies on vaccines and treatment of COVID-19 in Switzerland and beyond.
Risk factors for severe manifestations of SARS-CoV-2 infection
This policy brief discusses risk factors associated with hospitalization, ICU admission, and mortality in the context of COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Implications for commercial real estate
This policy brief examines the implications of public matching payments for commercial rent abatements during the COVID-19 crisis.
Recommendation for healthcare facilities in Switzerland for sterilizing protection FFP masks
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.
Contact Tracing Strategy
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.
Contact tracing costs
This document looks at the economic costs of contact tracing in relation to its potential benefits.
Ethics of serological passports
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.
Effect of measures
This document discusses the effect of the governmental measures on the epidemic dynamics of COVID-19 in Switzerland.
Role of masks
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.
Role of phylogeny
This document elaborates on how phylogenetic analyses can be used to contribute to the epidemiological and evolutionary understanding of SARS-CoV-2.
Role of serology
This policy brief reviews the potentials and limitations of serological testing in Switzerland and outlines the priorities for future research.
Usefulness of temperature screening
This document describes why temperature screening is not useful as a stand-alone measure. It also emphasizes the importance of the motivation for testing.
Proposal transition strategy
This document describes the concepts and proposals developed by the Task Force to ease the measures against the COVID-19 epidemic in Switzerland.
Ethical, legal, and social benchmarks for transition strategies
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.
The role of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections
This living systematic review discusses the role of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 who have an asymptomatic infection.
Recommendations storage of masks
This document summarises the recommendations of the Task Force for healthcare facilities on the storage of FFP (Filtering Facepiece Particles) face masks.
Analysis of Swiss Epidemic as of 27 March 20
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.