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HEALTH

Swiss secure three million more vaccine doses

Switzerland announced Tuesday it had secured an additional three million doses of the Moderna vaccine as it tries to hedge its bets between rival Covid-19 jabs.

Swiss secure three million more vaccine doses
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

“Since the development and availability of Covid-19 vaccines is subject to a great deal of uncertainty, the government is pursuing various options,” the Federal Office of Public Health said in a statement.

Switzerland has now secured, in total, around 7.5 million doses of US biotechnology firm Moderna's vaccine.

It has also signed contracts for around 5.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and, in a deal announced Monday, around three million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

READ: Why the Swiss are banking on a more cautious approach to Covid-19 vaccine 

The wealthy Alpine nation, population 8.6 million, has therefore secured around 15.8 million vaccine doses.

With all three manufacturers' vaccines, two doses are required per person.

The three different vaccines are currently awaiting approval from the Swissmedic national regulator. “The federal government is still in discussion with various vaccine manufacturers,” the statement said.

“Since it is not yet clear which vaccines will prevail, it is targeting a number of… vaccines based on different technologies.”

READ: Will residents in Switzerland be allowed to go to Germany for Covid-19 vaccination? 

Like the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech, US firm Moderna's vaccine is based on a new technology that uses genetic material in the form of mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid).

On Tuesday, Britain became the first Western country to start a mass coronavirus vaccine campaign with a 90-year-old pensioner receiving her initial dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.

Switzerland will not be among the first countries to do likewise, as it does not have a process for emergency authorisations of vaccines or drugs.

The authorities have said once a vaccine is approved, they hope to scale up quickly to provide free jabs for all by mid-2021.

Switzerland has recorded 357,121 positive tests and 5,099 deaths from the coronavirus.

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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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