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Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

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

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Monday
Views from the cable car are beautiful, but is it safe? Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Vaccines are effective for up to three years in some cases

Moderna and Pfizer / Biontech  vaccines were initially believed to protect against Covid for six months. However, Swiss health experts  have recently revised this timeline to up to one year.

Now a new government report says the two vaccines protect adults against a severe form of Covid “for three years”, and against a moderate form of the disease “for 16 months”.

The report also notes that the duration of protection of the two vaccines is shorter in the elderly: 10-14 months against a moderate form of the disease, and 15-24 months against a severe form. In all cases, the duration of protection is two to four times longer after vaccination than after contracting coronavirus, according to the Task Force.

The experts specified , however, that this duration is likely to be shortened if certain variants become dominant.

READ MORE: Covid-19 health pass: Switzerland extends vaccination protection to 12 months

And speaking of variants…

It is currently impossible to say whether the Delta (Indian) variant is fundamentally more dangerous than the older known mutations, according to  Swiss epidemiologist Volker Thiel.

However, this variant is more contagious and for optimum protection is it necessary to have two doses of the vaccine.

“With a single dose, the vaccine protection against Delta is about 30 percent, which is lower than for previous variants ” Thiel said.

Around 10 percent of Covid cases in Switzerland can already be attributed to the Delta variant and it is only a matter of weeks before it will become dominant “in late summer at the latest,” he said.

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

Dozens of Swiss cable cars may not be safe

After the tragic cable car accident in Stresa, Italy, that killed 14 people on May 23rd,  the issue of security of mountain transport is being examined in Switzerland as well.

It turns out that about 52 Swiss cable cars may have safety issues as well, according to Christoph Kupper, head of investigation of the Swiss Security Investigation Service (SESE

The cause would be defective clamps, which are parts often used in mountain transportation, especially in in Davos (GR), Flims (GR) and Grindelwald (BE).

While SESE  considers these clamps to be potentially unsafe, the Federal Office of Transport said there is no safety issue.

Swiss watchmaker manufactures “ecological” face mask

Michel Jordi, known for the folkloric watches featuring “Swiss” motifs like cows and edelweiss flowers, is now launching its new product line that has nothing to do with time keeping.

The company has manufactured  Maskit, “the first Swiss-made, ecological protective mask”. It features transparent plexiglass and replaceable filter, “ensuring safety, visibility, good breathability and acoustics”.

The mask retails for 49.90 francs a piece, plus 29.90 francs for a washable filter which has antiviral coating.

The new product has a lifespan of three months, the company said.

Meanwhile, the cost of disposable masks is dropping…

If you prefer to stick to the conventional disposable masks, you can bow buy them very cheaply at some retailers.

As the obligation to wear masks in outdoor places is no longer in place since June 26th, the demand for this product is declining, according to Blick newspaper.

As a result of this new trend, Aldi has reduced the price of a package of 50 masks to 4.99 francs.

READ MORE: UPDATE: What are the rules for wearing masks in Switzerland?

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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Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Efforts to prevent SWISS pilots strike, sanctions for energy abusers, and other news in our roundup on Friday.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Goodbye summer, welcome fall

Today is the so-called Autumnal Equinox, which marks the start of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, including in Switzerland.

Given the summer heatwave that reigned (rather than rained) in Switzerland much of the summer, many people are probably longing for the cooler temperatures and golden foliage typical of the fall season.

Image by Valentin from Pixabay

SWISS proposes out-of-court arbitration to the pilots’ association

In order to avoid a strike by SWISS pilots in the middle of autumn school vacations on October 17th, and as long-winded negotiations between the pilots’ union and the airline are not productive, SWISS has proposed to settle the differences in arbitration.

“After more than two years of intensive negotiations, a new collective labour agreement has still not been concluded. The aim of the out-of-court arbitration is to work out a non-binding recommendation over the next few weeks”, the airline said in a statement on Thursday.

It added that Switzerland’s flagship airline “is convinced of a common solution in the sense of a good Swiss compromise”.

The pilot’s union, Aeropers, has not yet replied nor rescinded its threat to strike.

READ MORE: SWISS pilots threaten an October strike action

Cantons ask federal government to set fines for energy abusers 

On September 1st, the Federal Council presented its action plan to avoid energy shortages, including lowering the indoor heating to 19 degrees.

In a letter to the Federal Council, cantons are asking for uniform sanctions across the country in the event that federal rules are not respected.

They want clarifications about who will have the responsibility for the control and issuing of fines in case of non-compliance.

The cantons are concerned that no uniform rules will exist, but instead different regional  measures will be in place, as was the case during the Covid pandemic.

Pfizer seeks approval for a bivalent Covid vaccine

The manufacturer has submitted an application to the drug regulator, Swissmedic, for authorisation of its bivalent vaccine against coronavirus to be used as a second booster.

The new vaccine is “intended to stimulate production of specific neutralising antibodies against Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5”, the strains that are currently predominant in Switzerland and elsewhere”, Swissmedic said.

In August, the regulator has approved the use of Moderna’s bivalent vaccine which targets Omicron subvariants. It should be available for use from October 10th.

READ MORE: Switzerland to start dual-strain Covid boosters in October

Best Swiss cheese to be selected today

The Valais community of Val de Bagnes is holding The Swiss Cheese Championships to determine the best variety.

Cheeses in 32 categories are vying for the coveted title of Best Cheese in an event that brings together 300 producers from all regions of Switzerland.

To prove that Swiss cheeses are loved all over the world, the winner will be determined by an international panel. Aside from Swiss jurors, there are also some from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Italy and even Japan.

Each one of them has a very tough job of tasting 40 cheeses for five to six hours before choosing the winner later today.

READ MORE: Ten varieties of cheese you should be able to identify if you live in Switzerland

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]