Can new Johnson and Johnson vaccine solve Switzerland’s inoculation shortage?

A single-dose coronavirus vaccine from US manufacturer Johnson & Johnson is expected to be approved in Switzerland in March - but will it help tackle the vaccine shortage?

Can new Johnson and Johnson vaccine solve Switzerland's inoculation shortage?
Switzerland may be ordering a vaccine from Johnson & Johnson. Photo by Phil Magakoe / AFP

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has been negotiating with the manufacturer since January, but has not yet said when the order will be placed or how many doses will be purchased, Switzerland’s Tages Anzeiger newspaper reports.

Vaccines are in short supply in Switzerland, even though the country ordered doses from five different manufacturers: 13.5 million doses from Moderna, 3 million doses from Pfizer/BioNtech, 6 million doses from Novavax, 5 million from Curevac, and 5.3 million from AstraZeneca.

However, to date only Moderna and Pfizer are in use in Switzerland, and even those doses are in short supply, though some more will likely be delivered in March and April.

Deliveries from Novavax and Curevac are not expected until May, although the two manufacturers are looking to be approved from the European Union within days.

Switzerland declined to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine in early February and it looks unlikely to be approved because there are doubts about its effectiveness, the regulatory agency Swissmedic said. 

In fact, Switzerland is reportedly investigating the possibility of selling the doses it agreed to buy from AstraZeneca because “it has a bad reputation”, said Nora Kronig, FOPH’s deputy director.

“In the current situation, Switzerland is not dependent on the vaccines from AstraZeneca”, she noted.

READ MORE: Switzerland considers selling millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses 

Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine, which require two shots about four weeks apart, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one injection, although its efficacy is believed to be slightly lower than the 94 to 95 percent effectiveness attributed to Moderna and Pfizer products.

Where is Switzerland now with its inoculation programme?

As of February 21st, 866,425 vaccines were delivered to cantons, and 675, 556 were administered with 173,407 having received both doses.

READ MORE: Which Swiss cantons are vaccinating fastest against coronavirus?

But as the chart below indicates, Switzerland’s rate of vaccinations is low compared to the UK, France, Italy, and Spain.


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Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists

Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival announced on Friday that it was forced to drop the acts of four UK-based artists from its summer program because they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.

Switzerland's Montreux Jazz Festival cancels concerts of unvaccinated British artists
British singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man was dropped from Montreux Jazx Festival. Photo: GUILLAUME SOUVANT / AFP

The move was done in order to comply with current Covid-19 entry rules into Switzerland, which state that from June 26th, travellers from outside the Schengen zone, including Brits, will only be allowed to enter Switzerland if they have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus. 

READ ALSO: Switzerland relaxes travel rules for vaccinated Americans and Brits: What you need to know

British soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man who was one of the headliners for the 2021 edition of the festival, which starts on July 2nd, will now no longer be able to attend due to not being fully vaccinated.

Other unvaccinated acts based in the UK who were also dropped because of the new entry rules include Inhaler, Alfa Mist and the Yussef Dayes Trio.

The artists have already been replaced with other performers from around Europe including Italian singer Zucchero, Woodkid, Dutch songwriter Benny Sings and Danish jazz trio Athletic Progression.

In a statement on June 25th, festival organisers said they were trying to make sure that the concerts of the other UK artists would continue to go ahead, however it is tricky because of fears over the Delta strain of the Covid virus, which has now become dominant in Britain.

“Whether or not these artists can come depends on their vaccination status and that of their touring entourage, as well as their ability to quarantine at the start of their European tour or before their concert at Montreux,” they said.

The Montreux Jazz Festival is one of just a small handful of big music festivals in Switzerland that will still go ahead this summer. Other music events such as St Gallen Open-Air, Paléo and Bern’s Gurten festival have been cancelled for the second year in a row, due to ongoing fears over the Covid-19 virus.

READ ALSO: UPDATE: What rules do European countries have for travellers from the UK?