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Benefits of Covid
testing for the Swiss
economy and the
healthcare system


Roche Diagnostics AG (Switzerland)



The assignment

In 2020, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Swiss economy shrank for the first time since the financial and economic crisis of 2009. The decline was 2.5 percent, but the Swiss economy recovered rapidly, reaching pre-pandemic gross domestic product (GDP) levels in the second quarter of 2021.

Prognos examined the impact of the use of Covid tests on this comparatively low decline in GDP, but also on health care and society in Switzerland on behalf of Roche Diagnostics. Covid testing can disrupt chains of infection and thus limit the spread of the virus. This was shown by our previous study conducted for Germany.

Our approach

This study quantifies the extent to which Covid testing has contributed to supporting the economy and the health system. The calculations are based on the effects of testing on the nationwide occurrence of infection derived from the literature. This relationship is derived from factors such as time period, region, and test setting. We thus performed calculations for three effect strengths: low, moderate, and high effect.

We then quantified the effect of Covid testing using counterfactual calculations:

  • How would the GDP have developed in Switzerland had no tests been carried out?
  • What would have been the number of people infected, hospitalised, and the number of deaths, without testing?

For the purpose of these calculations, we considered the period from the beginning of April 2020 to the end of June 2022, as all the relevant data was available for this period.

Core results

The “moderate effect” calculation assumes a reduction in the occurrence of infection of 40 percent as a result of Covid testing. Between April 2020 and June 2022, around 2.5 million infections were avoided, and alternative measures to contain the infection, such as plant closures or event bans, were prevented. In addition, a fall in the Swiss GDP of 21 billion Swiss francs (around 1.3 percent of the total GDP during that period) was averted. At the same time, an estimated 9,000 deaths and 35,000 hospitalisations were avoided. This saved around 0.8 billion Swiss francs that would have been spent on inpatient treatment.

In the “low effect” calculation we assumed a reduction in the occurrence of infection of 20 percent, and in the “high effect,” 70 percent. Between April 2020 and June 2022 (measured as the avoided decline in GDP), the overall economic benefit of testing amounts to just over 7 billion Swiss francs with a low effect, and around 24.5 billion Swiss francs with a high effect. The number of infections avoided ranges between 0.9 million (low effect) to 8.7 million (high effect). As a result, costs for inpatient treatments of between 0.3 billion (low effect) and 3 billion Swiss francs (high effect) were avoided.

Links and downloads

To the study (PDF, in German)

To the report for Germany

Project team: Dr Andreas Sachs, Eva Willer, Jan-Felix Czichon

Last update: 05.12.2022

Do you have questions?

Your contact at Prognos

Dr Andreas Sachs

Project Manager

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Eva Willer


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