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Chair of pharma firm Roche advocates mandatory Covid-19 vaccination

Franz addressing an empty Roche AGM last month as shareholders were not allowed due to Covid restrictions. Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

Christoph Franz said he was in favour of compulsory jabs if vaccination coverage rates were insufficient and if there was a social consensus on the issue. 

“Solidarity is needed to overcome this crisis together,” Franz said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. He added that several vaccines had been developed and approved in less than a year. “That normally takes more than five years.” 

The 60-year-old wanted production capacities to be built up first. “I am confident that the problems in logistics and distribution of the vaccines will be solved in the next few months,” he told the paper. 

The chairman of the Swiss pharma giant was also critical of the focus on prices of vaccines by some countries. He warned that action must be taken more quickly in a pandemic because the damage to the economy is many times greater than cost savings from reducing the price of a vaccine dose. 

Roche’s own pill against Covid-19 is still in the second phase of clinical development, Franz said, and has been tested in humans for efficacy and side effects. “We don’t have results yet, but we expect initial data in the next few months and hopefully results from pivotal trials this year.” 

On Tuesday, the Swiss government approved the use of Regeneron’s RegN-Cov 2 drug to treat Covid-19 produced by Roche and ordered 3,000 doses of the monoclonal antibody Casirivimab/Imdevimab. The value of the contract is confidential. 

Franz has been a board member of Roche since 2011 and chairman since 2014. His profile on the Roche website makes reference to his tendency to say what he thinks. 

“He is an unconventional thinker who is not afraid to ask questions that (as he himself says) could turn out to be stupid.” 


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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR