More than 60,000 people have been vaccinated in Switzerland against Covid-19 since late December, according to an official initial estimate. The plan is to vaccinate six million people by summer.This content was published on January 15, 2021 - 12:32
Swiss cantons started vaccinating the elderly and the most vulnerable in late December thanks to an initial 234,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Since then all cantons have deployed mobile vaccination teams and opened vaccination centres. Vaccinations at certain doctor’s surgeries should start next week, while pharmacies say they are prepared to help.
On Thursday, Nora Kronig, deputy director at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) said 66,000 people had so far received a Covid jab in Switzerland. More detailed figures by cantons will be announced next week. Some cantons, like Ticino, are very active in vaccinating residents, Kronig said.
The Swiss authorities had been accused of dragging their feet over their “hesitant” vaccine purchase strategy and slow vaccine rollout.
The ambitious plan is to vaccinate six million people on a voluntary basis, or 70% of the population by summer – a task that would involve up to 70,000 shots being administered per day. Over 75s and vulnerable people should get the shot by the end of February, followed by 70% of over-65s by the end of March. The rest of the population should then follow.
In total, Switzerland has ordered 15.8 million shots for its population of 8.6 million: 3 million from Pfizer/BioNTech, 7.5 million from Moderna and 5.3 million from Oxford/AstraZeneca.
On Tuesday, the health regulator Swissmedic gave the green light for the ‘immediate’ use of the vaccine produced by US company Moderna. Some 200,000 shots were delivered on Wednesday.
An additional 126,750 Pfizer/BioNTech doses will follow on January 18, which will allow 4% of Swiss adults to be covered. These batches will be followed by one million doses of vaccines in February.
On Thursday, the FOPH reported 2,474 new infections and 53 deaths in the Alpine nation. The total number of new infections, as well as hospitalisations and deaths, has slowed since late December. But the health office warns that the number of infections continues to stagnate at a level that is "too high". The average reproduction “R-rate” stands at 1.01.
The health authorities remain especially worried about the spread of more contagious mutant virus strains from the UK and South Africa. The Covid scientific taskforce believes the British variant could become the dominant strain in Switzerland by April-May.
On Wednesday Switzerland announced stricter measures including store closures in a bid to reduce contacts amid fears that the British and other variants could rapidly spread and overwhelm hospital and healthcare infrastructure.
Almost 8,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Switzerland, which has a population of 8.6 million.