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Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Tuesday

Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Tuesday
Covid tests may no longer be needed for border residents from Ticino. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Curevac has asked Switzerland to approve its vaccine

The German manufacturer has submitted an application for the authorisation of its Covid-19 vaccine, Switzerland’s drug surveillance agency, Swissmedic, announced.

The vaccine is now under rolling review, which means Swissmedic is evaluating all the scientific data as soon as it becomes available, without having to await the final results of the clinical trials.

Curevac’s technology — mRNA— is similar to that of Moderna and Pfizer / Biontech vaccines currently used in Switzerland, and it is also administered in two doses.

There’s no timeline for approval, as it depends “on the completeness of the data submitted by CureVac and the results of the clinical trials”, according to Swissmedic.

Switzerland speeds up the creation of the vaccine passport

The Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) is working out this week the form that the future vaccination certificate should take, so that it is recognised at Swiss and international level.

The Parliament already established the legal basis for the vaccination certificate during its spring session in March.

So far, around 50 options have been proposed to the Federal Council, and it is now up to FOPH to choose the most appropriate one.

READ MORE: ‘Green pass’: Everything you need to know about the coronavirus immunity card in Switzerland

Just what Switzerland needs: another chocolate

For those who believe there are not enough chocolate varieties in Switzerland, Coop supermarket chain is launching its own brand called “Halba – Le Chocolatier Suisse”.

Offered under Coop’s “Qualité et Prix” (Quality and Price) label, the bars are CO₂ neutral and don’t contain palm oil.

In addition to classic milk chocolate, there are also dark and white variations, along with caramelised pistachios and roasted corn.

A 100-gramme bar costs under 2 francs.

 A new proposal to allow Ticino residents to go to Italy without the Covid test 

All people entering Italy from abroad must have a negative coronavirus test. But Alessandro Alfieri, a deputy from Varese in Italy’s Lombardy region, asked national authorities to wave the test requirement for Swiss residents who live within 20 km of the Italian border — the same exemption as granted to cross-border workers.

The request was made to “restart the entire border economy severely affected by the restrictions”, Alfieri told Corriere del Ticino.

A similar arrangement is in place on Switzerland’s border with France, where Swiss residents living within 30 km of a French destination are not required to have a Covid test. 

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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Three scenarios: How Switzerland plans to fight a Covid resurgence

Swiss government has devised three contingency plans that could be implemented to fight a new outbreak. What are they?

Three scenarios: How Switzerland plans to fight a Covid resurgence
Authorities want to prevent overcrowded hospitals if new wave comes. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Although Switzerland relaxed a number of coronavirus rules from June 26th and 28th, “the pandemic is not over”, as Health Minister Alain Berset said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Berset said Switzerland should not become complacent, with last summer a warning against feeling that the battle is won. 

He added, however, that the new wave is unlikely to be as large as the previous ones due to the country’s vaccination campaign.

This situation leaves a degree of uncertainty for which the government wants to be prepared as well as possible, Berset noted.

The Federal Council established a “just-in-case” procedure on Wednesday for three possible scenarios that could take place in the autumn and winter. 

These plans focus mainly on the rapid detection of variants and the continuation of vaccination, testing, and tracing.

The best-case scenario: status quo

In this scenario, the number of cases remains at a low level, though small outbreaks are still possible.

The number of infections may increase slightly due to seasonal factors — the virus is known to spread slower in summer and faster in autumn and winter—  but does not place a significant burden on the health system.

If this happens, no measures beyond those already in place would be necessary.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Is Switzerland lifting its Covid-19 restrictions too quickly?

Not so good: more contaminations

In this second scenario, there is an increase in the number of cases in autumn or winter.

There may be several reasons for this, for example the large proportion of unvaccinated people, seasonal effects — people tend to stay indoors together in cold weather, and contaminations are easier — or the appearance of new, more infectious variants.

This situation could overburden the health system and require the reintroduction of certain measures, such as the obligation to wear a mask outdoors.

Booster vaccinations may also be necessary.

The worst: new virus mutations

In scenario three, one or more new variants appear, against which the vaccine or the post-recovery immunity are less effective or no longer effective.

A new wave of pandemic emerges, requiring strong intervention by the public authorities and a new vaccination.

Which of the three scenarios is most likely to happen?

The government hasn’t said, but judging by the comments of health officials, the latter two are the strongest contenders.

Firstly, because the highly contagious Delta mutation, which is spreading quickly through many countries, is expected to be dominant in Switzerland within a few weeks.

It is expected that the virus will spread mostly to those who are not vaccinated and, to a lesser degree, to people who have only had one shot of the vaccine, according to Andreas Cerny, epidemiologist at the University of Bern

READ MORE: How Switzerland plans to contain the Delta variant

Another concern is related to the appearance of the new variants which could be as or possibly even more contagious than Delta and not as responsive to the current vaccines.

The government said the best chance of avoiding the second or third scenarios is to ensure people are vaccinated. 

“Widespread vaccination of the population is crucial to relieve the burden on the healthcare system and to manage the epidemic. A possible increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the autumn will largely depend on the proportion of the population that has been vaccinated,” the government wrote in a press statement.

The government has also indicating it is preparing for booster vaccinations to take place in 2022 and are encouraging cantons to keep their vaccine infrastructures in place.