Coronavirus: Monitoring

Here you will find reports on the monitoring of COVID-19 and related topics. Monitoring is designed to provide further information of relevance to the progression of the pandemic in addition to the epidemiological data.

Analysing and monitoring sewage/wastewater

Research project: Analysing sewage for the presence of Sars-CoV-2

People who are infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus excrete genetic material (RNA) of the virus in their stool. This way RNA gets into the sewage (wastewater), where it can be detected. Since February 2021 the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) has been gathering samples of wastewater from six treatment plants on a daily basis and analysing them for Sars-CoV-2. These tests can help determine whether and to what extent people in the catchment area of the treatment plant are infected.

Until the end of July 2021 the treatment plants tested were in Lausanne, Laupen, Zurich, Lugano, Altenrhein and Chur. They were chosen on the basis of both their geographic distribution and the structure of their catchment areas – in other words whether they are urban or rural. Since August 2021 the Geneva wastewater treatment plant has been sampled instead of the Lausanne plant because i) its catchment area is larger, ii) an international airport is located in the catchment area, and iii) there is a substantial flow of cross-border commuters.

The data from these wastewater analyses are able to give a good depiction of the development of the pandemic in the various catchment areas. In the ideal case, wastewater analyses thus have the potential to detect hotspots and any renewed increases in case numbers early on. The studies of wastewater samples will run until spring 2023, with the final report also due to appear around this time.

You will find more information on the Eawag website. The FOPH is providing funding and expertise to support the project.

Monitoring wastewater/sewage: keeping track of the epidemiological situation

On the basis of the findings of the research project described above, a national monitoring system was established covering around 100 treatment plants. It will run until at least the end of 2022.
Monitoring sewage is an efficient means of keeping track of the viral load and the variants circulating in the population. It provides rapid, broad-based, anonymous and reliable data, something that is particularly relevant when fewer and fewer COVID-19 tests are being conducted. Two to six times a week, treatment plants supply samples for analysis by designated cantonal and private laboratories. The costs of these analyses are paid by the federal government. They cover around 70% of the population. The plants were selected to make sure that major tourist areas are covered. In addition, variants are monitored at selected treatment plants, enabling recognised variants to be detected early on.

The data gathered to track the epidemiological situation are evaluated on an ongoing basis and can be found on the dashboard.

Wastewater-based surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in various countries

In this document you will find an overview of how a selection of countries are monitoring the spread of SARS-CoV-2 by analysing wastewater.

Corona Immunitas

It is still important to investigate the population’s immunity to the coronavirus by analysing blood for the presence of antibodies (seroprevalence). This allows an evaluation of the percentage of the population that has immunity to the coronavirus as the result of infection, vaccination or both.

A nationwide long-term monitoring programme seeks to provide insights into the spread and impact of coronavirus. It is being conducted as part of Corona Immunitas, a national science programme of the Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+).

Objectives of the programme
The detection of antibodies seeks to:

  • provide evidence on the spread of coronavirus in Switzerland’s different regions and in specific population and occupational groups;
  • provide information on whether and to what extent measures to combat the spread of coronavirus are working;
  • determine whether a past infection protects from re-infection and if so, how long this protection lasts.

Regular surveys are also designed to gather additional insights into the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection (including the long-term effects) and vaccination.

Programme: participation, scope and duration
Fourteen universities and institutions from all over Switzerland are participating in Corona Immunitas. Over 40 studies are being conducted involving more than 30,000 Swiss residents. In summer 2021 the decision was made to no longer conduct research into immunity in the population at all sites. The development of seroprevalence over time is now examined at one site in each language region: Ticino, Vaud and Zurich.

Corona Immunitas will run until the end of 2022.

The FOPH is contributing to the study and providing financial support. The findings will provide an important basis to help federal and cantonal policymakers determine the next steps in combating the coronavirus epidemic.

Monitoring of COVID-19 in Swiss hospitals

Since the beginning of the pandemic, hospitalizations of patients with COVID-19 have been recorded in a hospital sentinel surveillance system (COVID-19 Hospital Based Surveillance CH-SUR) in addition to the mandatory reporting system. The aim of this surveillance is to obtain detailed clinical and epidemiological information on the burden of disease, clinical course such as ICU treatment, risk factors and management of COVID patients. The FOPH, the Institute of Global Health of the University of Geneva and the Infection Control Program of the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) are jointly coordinating CH-SUR. This project is financed by the FOPH.

The main results are published in a monthly report in English with a summary in French and German. Below you will find the latest edition and the reports published previously.

Latest edition

Data

Implementation of the measures and the health and wellbeing of the population

The FOPH is observing how members of the public are putting the measures to contain the coronavirus into practice, and how these measures are affecting their health and lives, among other things via the following two projects:

Covid Norms
The Covid Norms project run by the University of Zurich (UZH) is examining among other things the preventive behaviour of the population in Switzerland. It shows how broadly the measures are being implement and the extent to which they are accepted by members of the public.

The project employs various survey tools, co-financed by the FOPH and in some cases drawing on its expertise, to find out about people’s perceptions and attitudes. The findings are published on the Covid Norms website.

Covid-19 Social Monitor
Since the beginning of the pandemic the Covid-19 Social Monitor run by the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences has been gathering data on an ongoing basis:

  • on people’s wellbeing
  • on people’s state of physical and mental health
  • on people’s health related behaviours
  • and on the employment situation among members of the Swiss population.

The FOPH is co-funding the project and providing expertise. For information on the findings, visit the ZHAW website.

Here you will find the interim report for the period from March 2020 to June 2021:  

Last modification 12.08.2022

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