Let’s start with the vaccine.
In August, Switzerland secured early access to Covid-19 vaccine which is now being developed by the American pharmaceutical company Moderna — the only known strategy so far to build the immunity to the disease.
Swiss authorities pre-ordered 4.5 million doses. But Since two doses of the vaccine will be needed, this means that 2.25 million people, about a fourth of the country’s population, can be vaccinated against Covid-19.
This will not provide the so-called ‘herd immunity’ when at least 50 percent of the population becomes resistant to a particular virus.
However, at least the elderly and those at risk could be vaccinated with the available doses.
There’s also a chance that people working in certain professions such as health care, could be required to be vaccinated, Health Minister Alain Berset said.
The vaccine is not expected to be ready for use before next year at the earliest.
The sense of urgency to develop the vaccine has raised fears that companies and regulators might rush to produce vaccines that have not been properly tested for safety and efficacy.
But pharmaceutical company executives insist they would bring Covid-19 vaccines to market only after thorough testing.
One an anti-viral medication, Remdesivir, has been used experimentally to treat infected patients, as no other alternatives exist at the moment.
But in August, the federal government has signed a ‘reservation agreement’ for the delivery of 200,000 doses of a possible new coronavirus medication.
If the yet-unnamed drug successfully passes clinical trials and is approved for the market, Switzerland will receive priority access, the Federal Office of Public Health said.
The government also secured the right to be supplied with up to 3 million further doses.
Manufactured by a Swiss company, Molecular Partners, a spin-off of the University of Zurich, the new drug acts as an ‘immunotherapeutic agent’.
This means the treatment is comparable to mixtures of antibody therapies that are used to neutralise the virus.
“If the product is approved in Switzerland, it will primarily be used to treat people infected with the coronavirus”, health authorities noted.
“The drug also could, in certain cases, be administered on a preventive basis — for example for exposed hospital staff or other risk groups”.