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Switzerland to donate up to 15 million vaccines to COVAX

vaccine
As of February 2022, some 70% of the Swiss population had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Switzerland is to donate a maximum of 15 million shots of coronavirus vaccine in the first half of this year to the COVAX initiative for equitable vaccine distribution.

With a total of 34 million vaccines available for 2022, the Swiss population of 8.7 million is more than covered – even in the case of another booster campaign, the government said on Wednesday.

As such, it will make a maximum of 15 million shots available to the COVAX initiative, the multilateral project to funnel vaccines from richer to poorer countries in an effort to reduce inequalities.

“From the outset, as part of global efforts to manage the pandemic, Switzerland has been working to ensure that as many people as possible all over the world get access to safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines,” the government wroteExternal link.

It pointed to two previous gestures: a donation of four million AstraZeneca doses in June 2021 (after the Swiss health regulator did not approve it for use here), and the deferral of a purchase of a million doses of Moderna vaccine last December to allow COVAX to benefit from the freed-up production capacity.

While the vaccination rate in Switzerland stands at over 70%, many other countries – especially in Africa – have not managed to progress beyond small percentages of the population, as data from ReutersExternal link shows.

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‘Passive vaccination’

The government also said on Wednesday it was planning to centralise the purchase of new drugs aimed at protecting those particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, for example immune-supressed people with underlying conditions.

Without naming specific medicines – simply saying they will “come up for approval in 2022” – the government said it would agree purchase guarantees with manufacturers so that they can be quickly made available to the people affected when available.

Last week, after the announcement that almost all public health measures to stem the spread of Covid-19 were ending in Switzerland, some groups of at-risk people voiced concern about their ongoing vulnerability to the disease.

The government added that such drugs for “passive immunisation” would be purchased in the future specifically for such vulnerable groups, rather than as an alternative to vaccination for the general public.

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