Coronavirus vaccine: Inside Switzerland’s 200-million franc plan to achieve herd immunity

Coronavirus vaccine: Inside Switzerland’s 200-million franc plan to achieve herd immunity
Switzerland has invested considerably in coronavirus vaccine research. Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP
Switzerland is set to invest 200 million francs to reserve 10 million coronavirus vaccine doses. The plan is to vaccinate 60 percent of the population.

As reported in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung on Sunday, the goal of the scheme is to vaccinate 60 percent of the population, thereby minimising the risk of further spread should another outbreak occur. 

While Switzerland’s population is 8.5 million, 10 million doses will be reserved as two injections are needed per person. 

Not all members of the population will be vaccinated, said Nora Kronig, a spokesperson from the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health. 

“In the first phase, children should be excluded from the vaccination regime,” Kronig said. 

The government is also looking to invest 100 million francs for companies which produce and develop such vaccines, with a focus on Swiss companies. 

Swiss biotech company Lonza, in partnership with American firm Moderna, announced earlier in the week that the first phase of its coronavirus vaccine trials showed “excellent results”.

No priority for Swiss residents

As reported in The Local Switzerland, despite Swiss companies playing a leading role in coronavirus vaccine research, residents of Switzerland will not be prioritised if and when a vaccine becomes available. 

READ: Why Swiss residents won't have priority access to a locally-made coronavirus vaccine

The government said it wanted to ensure all Swiss residents had access to the vaccine, but also wanted to make sure other countries were able to access it as well. 

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset said on Wednesday an international collaboration was the best way to get a vaccine as fast as possible, rather than having several countries working against each other trying to invent the same wheel. 

“First, we have to have a vaccine. The WHO is working on it,” Berset said. 

“We (Switzerland) are taking a pioneering role when it comes to vaccines. 

“The world is working together. There will not be 120 different vaccines, but instead there will be a few promising candidates.”

Asked whether the government could compel a Swiss company such as Lonza to provide the vaccine first to Swiss citizens, Berset said it was unrealistic and contrary to principles of international trade that Swiss residents would get first dibs. 

“We are interested in the end product. We need a finished vaccine that protects people. A mere component of the vaccine is of no use to us.”

““The active ingredient is to be manufactured in Switzerland. The countries that have the final product must ensure that the distribution among the countries is guaranteed. 

“The Swiss population will have good access to a vaccine.”

Production lines for the vaccine are being created in both the United States and in Visp, Switzerland. 


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