Has Switzerland's Covid vaccine rollout become a 'fiasco'?

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Has Switzerland's Covid vaccine rollout become a 'fiasco'?
Pfizer vaccine is here but the rollout is slow. Photo by AFP

Officials say Switzerland is not well prepared for the coronavirus inoculation process now underway.


Thirteen Swiss cantons — Vaud, Basel-City, Basel-Country, Geneva, Fribourg, Neuchâtel, Valais, Solothurn, Lucerne, Zug, Schwyz, Nidwalden and Appenzell Innerrhoden — have already started vaccinating their at-risk populations at the end of December, and the other 13 will gradually begin this week and throughout January.

But some in the country claim the process is too slow and inefficient.

“Our immunisation programme is a fiasco that costs lives every day and will destroy our economy for months to come”, lawmaker Philippe Nantermod said in an interview on Monday. 

The MP representing Valais added that the country “is clearly late” in its inoculation process, especially when compared to nations of similar size, like Israel, where 13 percent of the population have already received their first shot.



One of the reasons why the rollout is not progressing at a faster pace may be that not enough doses are available at the moment.

Switzerland ordered approximately 13 million doses from three manufacturers: Moderna (4.5 million doses), AstraZeneca (5.3 million) and Pfizer / Biontech (3 million).

So far, however, only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for use in Switzerland, but just 107,000 doses have been delivered so far.

"Switzerland ordered only a fraction of the vaccine it really needs," Andreas Faller, former vice-director of FOPH told the SonntagsZeitung.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What you should know about Switzerland’s Covid-19 vaccination rollout 

Another challenge, Vaud’s Health Minister Rebecca Ruiz said, lays in setting up adequate vaccination infrastructure. 

She noted that Vaud asked federal authorities whether the army, which is responsible for delivering doses to the cantons, could also help set up mobile vaccination units.

“But our request was refused, so we are left to our own devices”, she pointed out.

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset did say that the first round of immunisations will be “low volumes”. 

He also conceded that launching a new vaccination programme “is extremely complicated logistically”.

READ MORE: How Switzerland is setting up its unprecedented vaccination infrastructure 



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