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HEALTH

Swiss Pharma boss: ‘I support compulsory coronavirus vaccination’

The boss of Swiss Pharma giant Roche has indicated his support for compulsory vaccination in Switzerland. The Swiss government has said on a number of occasions that any vaccine will be voluntary.

Swiss Pharma boss: 'I support compulsory coronavirus vaccination'
Roche headquarters in Basel. Photo: SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP

Christoph Franz, President of Roche, said that compulsory vaccination would lead to widespread societal protection from the coronavirus. 

“Personally, I am in favour of mandatory vaccinations, yes. Although I know that this is a controversial position,” Franz told Switzerland’s economics journal Handelszeitung

Franz said that although he understood a mandatory vaccine could be considered as an intrusion into people’s personal rights, it would lead to greater societal freedom. 

“I am of the opinion that herd protection is very important in a population. A vaccination is not only a protective measure for yourself – something which you could possibly do without,” he said. 

“With a vaccination everyone contributes to the fact that the whole population is protected and that there are no restrictions. In this respect, compulsory vaccination creates freedoms elsewhere.”

The likelihood of a compulsory vaccination regime in Switzerland is low, however. 

In April, Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset said “Swiss law does not allow us to force someone to get vaccinated against their will”.

As reported by The Local Switzerland in June, a vaccine could be made compulsory in Switzerland for people in certain occupations. 

Dominique Sprumont, deputy director of the Institute of Health Law at the University of Neuchâtel, explained that immunisation will be obligatory for people in certain jobs, such as healthcare professionals and others whose work brings them in close contact with the public. But others “can't be compelled by force to vaccinated”, he added.

Sprumont said the vaccine will be compulsory, “but compulsory does not mean forced”.

While welcoming the recent news of a successful coronavirus vaccine, he said it was important to be realistic about when the vaccine will arrive. 

“Realistically, it will also take a while before the vaccine will be available in the required quantity, including in Switzerland. The overall situation will not actually improve until the middle of next year,” said Franz.

Roche, which has led the way in developing tests for the virus – with more than 180 million supplied worldwide – is not itself in the vaccine race. 

 

 

 

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TAXES

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

Switzerland’s tax deadline is just around the corner. Are Covid-related costs tax deductible?

Masks, tests and jabs: Can I deduct Covid-related costs from my taxes in Switzerland?

March 31st is the deadline for filing taxes in Switzerland relating to the 2021 financial year. 

Over the past two years, the Covid pandemic has seen a change in our spending habits. 

While we may have saved on restaurants and travel, we laid out considerable costs on a range of new expenses, including disinfectant, masks and Covid tests. 

As some of these costs are required by law, can they be deducted from your tax?

In some cases, expenses directly related to the Covid pandemic can be deducted. 

Masks, for instance, can be deducted as medical expenses in some cantons, Swiss tax specialist Markus Stoll told 20 Minutes

This depends on the specific framework for tax deductions related to medical expenses in that canton. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

Generally speaking, any medical costs paid out of pocket can be deducted. However, most cantons impose a minimum percentage limit from which these costs can be deducted. 

In many cantons, this will start at five percent of your yearly income in total (i.e. including other out-of-pocket costs like dental or specialist visits), meaning you would need to purchase a significant amount of masks to beat the threshold. 

What about testing and vaccination?

Testing and vaccinations however were largely free as their costs were covered by the Swiss government, which means associated expenses cannot be deducted. 

Those tests which were not covered by the government – for instance for travel abroad or for visiting clubs – cannot be deducted, Stoll says. 

“Tests for travel abroad or to visit clubs are not deductible” Stoll said. 

For a complete overview of taxation in Switzerland, including several specific guides, please check out our tax-specific page here. 

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