‘Insufficient data’: Switzerland declines to approve AstraZeneca vaccine

'Insufficient data': Switzerland declines to approve AstraZeneca vaccine
Photo: AFP
Switzerland will not approve the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying there is insufficient data to do so. This may have implications for the country's vaccination plan.

The Swiss regulatory authority said Wednesday that data submitted by AstraZeneca were not sufficient for it to authorise use of the Anglo-Swedish firm's Covid vaccine, saying “new studies” were needed.

The decision is not final, with the Swiss government instead saying more data on the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine is needed to make an accurate approval assessment. 

“The data currently available do not point to a positive decision regarding benefits and risks,” Swissmedic said in a statement.

“To obtain a conclusive assessment, the applicant will among other things have to submit additional efficacy data from a Phase III trial under way in North and South America, and these will have to be analysed.”

READ MORE: Why has Zurich's coronavirus vaccination plan been delayed? 

In January, Swiss media reported that the approval of the vaccine was only weeks away. 

It had been expected to authorise the AstraZeneca jab soon, after the neighbouring European Union last week gave the vaccine the go ahead. 

Only Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been approved

Switzerland has so far given the green light to Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

But while the EU granted approval for use in all people over the age of 18, several European countries have advised against giving the jabs to people over 65, citing lack of evidence that it was effective among the elderly.

Germany, France and Italy have recommended it be used only for people under the age of 65. 

Swissmedic said a meeting of its external advisory body on Tuesday had confirmed its interim assessment of the AstraZeneca vaccine data.

“The data currently available do not point to a positive decision regarding benefits and risks,” it said.

“To obtain a conclusive assessment, the applicant will among other things have to submit additional efficacy data from a Phase 3 trial under way in North and South America, and these will have to be analysed.

“As soon as the results have been received, a temporary authorisation according to the rolling procedure could be issued at very short notice,” it added.

17 mn more doses

Switzerland, which kicked off vaccination against the deadly coronavirus in late December, meanwhile announced Wednesday that it had signed three more contracts to acquire another 17 million vaccine doses.

The country of 8.5 million people said it had reached an agreement with Germany's Curevac, whose vaccine is in Phase 3 trials, and the Swedish government for the delivery of five million doses.

It said it had also signed a preliminary agreement with US firm Novavax for six million doses.

These will add two new vaccines to the Swiss portfolio, if they are approved by regulators.

At the same time, the Swiss government had also signed a deal to acquire an additional six million doses of the Moderna vaccine, bringing the total number of those jabs available in Switzerland to 13.5 million.

In addition, the government has signed deals for access to around three million Pfizer-BioNTech doses and 5.3 million AstraZeneca doses.


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