Switzerland has secured the highly effective mRNA technology with the corona vaccines from Pfizer / Biontech and Moderna Vakzine. And with Astrazeneca’s vaccine, she has a contract for a vector-based vaccine.
The declared aim of the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) has always been to have all three vaccine technologies. However, a protein-based serum was missing by the end of January.
At the beginning of February, the FOPH was very happy to have a new protein-based vaccine in prospect. So big, in fact, that on February 3, it announced the purchase of a vaccine for which there is actually only a preliminary contract: six million Novavax vaccine doses are to be procured.
A happy day, but not a breakthrough
On that day, the federal government was also able to announce the conclusion of a contract to purchase five million doses of the corona vaccine from the German pharmaceutical company Curevac. And they managed to buy more vaccine doses from Moderna.
February 3rd was a happy day for the BAG. After all, the office had previously come under severe criticism because far too little vaccine was available to really start the largest vaccination campaign in Swiss history.
The big break in the air is February 3rd to this day: The vaccines from Curevac and Novavax have not yet received approval in Switzerland, and Pfizer / Biontech and Moderna are still behind with their deliveries.
However, the manufacturers promise to deliver the vaccine doses promised for the first quarter in late February and March. Since the companies state at very short notice when they will bring how many vaccine doses, and perhaps also out of fear that it will become apparent how little vaccine is available, the FOPH keeps the delivery schedule for the vaccines a big secret.
Army revealed the vaccination schedule
The anger against the army was therefore all the greater when they briefly made the vaccination plan public. As the “NZZ am Sonntag” writes, the vaccine from Astrazeneca was missing from the plan, which is supposed to contribute at least one seventh of the entire federal order.
The Astrazeneca vaccine, like those from Novavax and Curevac, has not yet been approved. But the vector vaccine has been under review by the Swissmedic drug authority for months, while the manufacturers of the Novavax and Curevac vaccines have not even submitted their approval dossiers. Nevertheless, it was stated in the delivery schedule that the two would deliver in May.
So what about the 5.3 million Astrazeneca cans that have been ordered? In the cantons there is now speculation that the federal government wants to cancel the order from Astrazeneca, writes the newspaper. There should be a contract exit clause in the event that the vaccine would be too ineffective.
Resignation is currently not an option
“Withdrawal from the purchase contract is currently not an option,” says BAG vaccination boss Nora Kronig (40) to the “NZZ am Sonntag”. If Astrazeneca should fail, “this would be checked at best”.
In fact, it is often said that the Astrazeneca vaccine is far less protective than the mRNA vaccines. A South African study only attests to the substance’s effectiveness of 25 percent, according to the standards of the World Health Organization at least 50 percent would be necessary.
According to VIEW information, the BAG currently expects the Astrazeneca vaccine to have a much higher protective effect: 60 to 70 percent. And the well-known German virologist Christian Drosten (48) says: “I think this is a very good vaccine after a lot of things that I see.”
He is responding to press reports about alleged side effects. Only eleven cases of serious reactions are registered – after 32,000 vaccinations. People still canceled vaccination appointments in a row.
Buying vaccines is under consideration
Apparently there is hope in the FOPH that it will be able to procure more vaccine from other manufacturers. After all, mRNA vaccines should have an effectiveness of over 90 percent. The vector-based Russian vaccine Sputnik V is said to offer a similar level of protection. In fact, the federal government is also examining the procurement of the product from Russia.
Switzerland is currently still suffering from a corona vaccine shortage. Sufficient of these should only be available in May and June. Then considerations that vaccination boss Kronig is already making today could come into play: “It is still unclear what would happen to Astrazeneca” – if it has enough other vaccine. “There are considerations to pass on the material,” she told the “NZZ am Sonntag”. (pt)
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