Switzerland doubles Pfizer-Biontech coronavirus vaccine order

Switzerland has doubled its order for Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine from three to six million doses.

Ice-cold vials of the Pfizer-Biontech coronavirus vaccine sitting in the fridge.

Switzerland said on Tuesday it had bought an additional three million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, doubling the number on order to six million.

“The extra doses will be delivered in stages from April onwards,” the health ministry said in a statement, adding that it hoped to inoculate every adult over the coming months.

The wealthy Alpine country of 8.6 million people has struck deals with several firms for almost 36 million doses — more than enough to vaccinate the entire population twice over.

“The idea behind procuring vaccines from different manufacturers is to make sure that sufficient doses of an approved vaccine are available to the public even if there are delivery problems,” the health ministry said.

If everything goes to plan, everyone who wants a jab will have had one by the summer, the statement said. So far, only the Pfizer jab and one made by US firm Moderna have been cleared by regulators.

Switzerland has already taken delivery of 1.2 million vaccine doses in total and administered nearly 950,000, with more than 330,000 people now fully vaccinated having received their second dose.

The government expects available vaccine doses to “increase sharply” over the next three months.

Switzerland has also bought into the Covax scheme, which should eventually ensure a stream of vaccines for up to 20 percent of the population. Switzerland was relatively quick off the mark with the Covid-19 jabs rollout, beginning in late December.

More than 560,000 Covid-19 cases and over 9,300 deaths have been recorded in Switzerland. The country plans to lift in stages the restrictions imposed to control the spread of the virus.

A second wave of easing the restrictions is scheduled for March 22, when the government hopes to allow the opening of outdoor areas at restaurants and change the requirement to work from home.

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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?