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Original article

Vol. 151 No. 0708 (2021)

Cohort profile: SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 hospitalised patients in Switzerland

Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2021;151:w20475



SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19, which emerged in China in late 2019, rapidly spread across the world with several million victims in 213 countries. Switzerland was severely hit by the virus, with 43,000 confirmed cases as of 1 September 2020.


In cooperation with the Federal Office of Public Health, we set up a surveillance database in February 2020 to monitor hospitalised patients with COVID-19, in addition to their mandatory reporting system.


Patients hospitalised for more than 24 hours with a positive polymerase chain-reaction test, from 20 Swiss hospitals, are included. Data were collected in a customised case report form based on World Health Organisation recommendations and adapted to local needs. Nosocomial infections were defined as infections for which the onset of symptoms was more than 5 days after the patient’s admission date.


As of 1 September 2020, 3645 patients were included. Most patients were male (2168, 59.5%), and aged between 50 and 89 years (2778, 76.2%), with a median age of 68 (interquartile range 54–79). Community infections dominated with 3249 (89.0%) reports. Comorbidities were frequently reported, with hypertension (1481, 61.7%), cardiovascular diseases (948, 39.5%) and diabetes (660, 27.5%) being the most frequent in adults; respiratory diseases and asthma (4, 21.1%), haematological and oncological diseases (3, 15.8%) were the most frequent in children. Complications occurred in 2679 (73.4%) episodes, mostly respiratory diseases (2470, 93.2% in adults; 16, 55.2% in children), and renal (681, 25.7%) and cardiac (631, 23.8%) complications for adults. The second and third most frequent complications in children affected the digestive system and the liver (7, 24.1%). A targeted treatment was given in 1299 (35.6%) episodes, mostly with hydroxychloroquine (989, 76.1%). Intensive care units stays were reported in 578 (15.8%) episodes. A total of 527 (14.5%) deaths were registered, all among adults.


The surveillance system has been successfully initiated and provides a robust set of data for Switzerland by including about 80% (compared with official statistics) of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 hospitalised patients, with similar age and comorbidity distributions. It adds detailed information on the epidemiology, risk factors and clinical course of these cases and, therefore, is a valuable addition to the existing mandatory reporting.


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