What does Swiss cheese have to do with the pandemic?

December 10, 2020 Cary Conway

A couple of months ago, a Tweet from Australian virologist Ian Mackay featuring the “Swiss cheese model” as a multi-layered approach for combatting COVID-19 went viral (no pun intended), even capturing the attention of The New York Times.

While the Swiss cheese concept has existed for some time, for the pandemic it serves as an effective visual that there are multiple intervention layers (cheese slices). These slices have been divided into personal and shared responsibilities to prevent the spread of this virus decimating the physical and economic health of so many around the world. While the different prevention techniques, such as hand washing, social distancing, mask wearing and avoiding large gatherings are not perfect in and of themselves, layered together these interventions provide greater protections.

The pandemic has dragged on much longer than any of us would have initially anticipated, and the disruption is being felt even more intensely as many of our traditions and time spent with family and friends during the holidays have been cancelled. However, promising vaccines are imminent, and we are nearing a light at the end of the tunnel. While COVID-fatigue may be setting in for many, this is a good reminder that this is not the time to step away from the various interventions we have been using to prevent the spread of this virus.

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