On 12 January 2021, Switzerland has approved Moderna vaccine against the new coronavirus—after being the first country in continental Europe to start using the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.
The Swissmedic, the Swiss Agency for the authorisation and supervision of therapeutic products, approved the second COVID-19 vaccination for the Swiss market.
The federal government has ordered around 7.5 million doses, is suitable for adults from age 18.
In the next few days, initial delivery of 200,000 doses will be made to the Armed Forces Pharmacy, which will distribute the vaccine to the cantons.
Together with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine approved by Swissmedic on 19 December 2020, around half a million doses of vaccine are available in Switzerland in January. The first priority will be to vaccinate especially vulnerable people.
Like the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine approved by Swissmedic on 19 December 2020, Moderna has opted for a novel technology: mRNA is a type of messenger molecule that carries the instructions for building proteins.
These give the cells of the body the necessary information on how they are to produce a virus protein.
As soon as the protein is produced in the body, the immune system recognises it as a foreign body and thus produces measurable antibodies against the virus. The immune response prepares the body to fight the virus.
Two doses at an interval of around four weeks are necessary for optimum protection. With 95% and 94% efficacy respectively, the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines provide similar protection.
Together with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, around half a million doses of vaccine will be available in Switzerland in January. Further deliveries will follow at regular intervals.
This means that the availability of vaccine in Switzerland will increase in the next few months. By summer everyone who wishes to go for vaccination should be able to do so.
15 million doses of vaccine
Given that the development and availability of Covid-19 vaccines is subject to a great deal of uncertainty, from the outset the federal government has pursued a targeted and diversified strategy.
So far the federal government has procured a total of more than 15 million doses of vaccine from three vaccine manufacturers: Moderna (a total of around 7.5 million doses), Pfizer/BioNTech (around 3 million doses), and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca (around 5.3 million doses). The vaccine from AstraZeneca is still undergoing the approval process at Swissmedic.
The federal government is in discussion with other vaccine manufacturers. Parallel to this, Switzerland is taking part in the international COVAX Initiative to give economically weaker countries access to vaccines.
The COVAX Initiative is also a means of gaining access to vaccines for up to 20 percent of the Swiss population.