Emergency vaccine approval not legal option in Switzerland

Swissmedic made the statement on Friday Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

The emergency approval process being used by some countries to speed up the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines is not a legal option in Switzerland, its medicines approval agency said on Friday.

This content was published on December 11, 2020

The statement comes as the regulatory authority in the United States, the FDA, gets ready to decide on an emergency approval (Emergency Use Authorisation) for the use of the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech. 

“Swissmedic works closely with international partner authorities and reviews all applications for Covid-19 vaccines as a matter of urgency and in a 'rolling' procedure,” the Swiss agency for therapeutic products said in a statement on FridayExternal link.

Swissmedic said it had received additional details from companies on their Covid-19 vaccines that would enable it to issue authorisations quickly once sufficient data on safety, efficacy and quality were available.

However, it added: “An emergency approval for vaccines is not a legal option in Switzerland,” the agency said, ruling out what it called “premature vaccinations” for the country.

“The safety of the Swiss population has top priority,” the statement said.

Britain became the first country to approve and roll out a Covid-19 19 vaccine from Pfizer and its partner BioNTech. The first vaccination took place on December 8.

Switzerland said on December 7 that it had signed a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech to deliver 3 million doses of their vaccine. It has also signed agreements with Moderna and AstraZeneca.

The Alpine country now has 15.8 million doses of vaccines on order from the three different manufacturers, pending approval from the health regulator.

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