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Swiss double Covid vaccine order from Pfizer/BioNTech

Switzerland has ordered enough to vaccinate the population more than two times over. Keystone / Fazry Ismail

The Swiss government has signed a new deal with Pfizer/BioNTech for another three million vaccine doses, bringing the total number of doses ordered from five companies to nearly 36 million.

The additional doses will be delivered to Switzerland in April, according to the government. When announcing the “good news”, health minister Alain Berset tweeted that “one million (doses) will already be available in the cantons in April, May and June”.

This comes amid concerns about the slow pace of the vaccine rollout. To date, only 1.3 million doses have been delivered and around 3.8% of the population has been fully vaccinated. As a comparison, in Israel, which has about the same population as Switzerland, more than 40% of the population is fully vaccinated.

During a press conference yesterday, Nora Kronig, deputy director of the Federal Office of Public Health, said vaccinations were still progressing according to plan. “We are still confident that by the end of June we will be able to vaccinate anyone who wants to,” Kronig told reporters.

Spreading its purchases

Switzerland has so far bought more than 35 million doses for its population of 8.6 million. These doses are from five manufacturers: Moderna (13.5 million doses), Pfizer/BioNTech (now around 6 million), Oxford/AstraZeneca (around 5.3 million), Curevac (5 million) and Novavax (6 million).

In a statementExternal link, the government said “given that production and availability of vaccines are subject to such great uncertainty, the federal government continues to look into different vaccine technologies from different vaccine manufacturers”. However, it is focusing on mRNA vaccines because they are “proving to be highly effective and well tolerated”. Four out of the five vaccines ordered are mRNA-based.

So far, only the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been approved by the Swiss medical regulator Swissmedic. CureVac and Novavax have not yet filed for approval and Oxford/AstraZeneca’s vaccine is still being reviewed. Swissmedic has said that based on the available data, the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine could not be conclusively evaluated. It is still awaiting results of large-scale clinical trials from Oxford/AstraZeneca.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR