Switzerland secures three million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

The Pfizer/BioNTech employs the novel mRNA technology. Keystone / Biontech Se / Handout

Switzerland has signed an agreement with a third manufacturer of Covid-19 vaccines for three million doses. A contract has been signed with Pfizer and BioNTech, the co-producers of the mRNA vaccine, pending safety approval from the health regulator Swissmedic.

This content was published on December 7, 2020

Some 4.5 million doses of another vaccine have already been agreed with United States pharma company Moderna and another 5.3 million doses from the British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca. The government said on MondayExternal link that membership of the World Health Organization COVAXExternal link initiative grants vaccine coverage to 20% of the Swiss population.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine would require two doses per person, meaning the initial supply would cover 1.5 million people.

In a press release the government said “the quality, safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines are crucial. They must be approved by Swissmedic and recommended by the Federal Office of Public Health before being used”.

Earlier this month Swissmedic said it was still waiting for important data on safety, efficacy and quality from all three manufacturers.

Free of charge

Switzerland has set aside CHF400 million ($448 million) to secure supplies of vaccines. Vaccines will be offered free of charge with priority given to the most vulnerable groups and health workers. The army will be deployed to ensure stockage and distribution and to set up vaccination centres.

The government said on Monday that it was still in discussions with various other vaccine manufacturers.

“Since it is not yet clear which vaccines will prevail, it is targeting a number of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines based on different technologies (mRNA, protein-based and vector-based),” it said.

Also on Friday, Swissmedic said it had received an application from a vaccine developed by Janssen Pharmaceutical, a division of US firm Johnson & Johnson. The vaccine candidate Ad26.COV2.S is a recombinant viral-vector vaccine based on a human adenovirus.

Swissmedic said this is the fourth vaccine it is reviewing under its “rolling procedure” that allows manufacturers to submit the results of test studies in stages.

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