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UPDATE: What is Switzerland’s data-safe ‘light’ Covid certificate?

Switzerland launched a ‘light’ Covid certificate in response to data protection concerns. Unlike the standard Covid certificate, it will only be available for use Switzerland.

UPDATE: What is Switzerland’s data-safe ‘light’ Covid certificate?
Switzerland's Covid certificate will allow you to do a variety of things - what is the light version? Photo: Pau BARRENA / AFP

In addition to concerns about forgery, one of the major worries surrounding Switzerland’s coronavirus immunity card has been data protection. 

As a result, Switzerland in July launched a ‘light’ Covid certificate, which minimises the health data visible when the certificate is scanned. 

The light certificate will allow holders to generate a copy of their actual Covid certificate, however where the underlying data – i.e. which vaccine they had, whether they have recovered from the virus or whether they tested negative – will not be visible to the person scanning the copy. 

READ MORE: How to get Switzerland’s Covid-19 health pass

The certificates will be available from July 12th, 2021. 

According to the official guidance, the certificate will only be available electronically.

Unlike the standard Covid certificate, the certificate will only be for use domestically – i.e. it will not be compatible with the European Union Covid certificate framework. 

Therefore, while it will allow you to do certain things in Switzerland, international travel will not be one of them. 

More information about the light Covid certificate is available at the following link (in English). 

How will the Covid-19 health pass work? 

As at June 9th, it appears that the health pass – also known as a Covid-19 pass, Covid certificate, green passport or Covid passport – will operate on a three-tiered colour system. 

Three colours – green, orange and red – will be assigned to different areas of life in Switzerland. 

Those areas designated green will be deemed as elementary to life and therefore protected by basic freedoms – which means that the Covid-19 pass will not be required to access these areas. 

This includes shops, schools and educational facilities, the workplace (including canteens), public transport and religious venues. 

Private events will also be deemed ‘green’. 

The next category, orange, will relate to places which are popular with people but not fundamental, for instance bars, restaurants and cinemas. 

Events with up to 1,000 attendees will be included here, such as trade fairs, sporting events, etc. 

Amateur sport and activities of cultural associations will be included here, as will visiting old people’s homes. 

In ‘orange’ places, operators will be given the freedom to decide which rules they put in place – and whether they allow persons with the health certificate or not. 

Finally, red areas include “sensitive epidemiological areas” which will require additional protection. If venues do require certificates, they will be allowed to relax other rules, such as those requiring masks or social distancing rules. 

These will include larger events (more than 1,000 people) and international travel, along with nightclubs and larger events involving dancing. 

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Switzerland to start dual-strain Covid boosters in October

The long-awaited second booster shots will be rolled in Switzerland from October 10th, the Health Ministry announced on Friday.

Switzerland to start dual-strain Covid boosters in October

Less than two weeks after drug regulator Swissmedic approved the new version of the Moderna vaccine, which should better target certain sub-variants of Omicron, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) said on Friday the shots will be available to some groups of the population from October 10th.

“The vaccination recommendation for autumn 2022 aims primarily to protect vulnerable people against a severe form of the disease. On the one hand, people aged 65 or over, and on the other hand, those aged 16 to 64 with an increased risk, for example due to a pre-existing disease or pregnancy”; FOPH said in a statement on Friday.

After that, those “aged 16 to 64, without risk factors and who work in acute and long-term care, or who care for vulnerable people in a professional or private capacity” will be eligible for the shots, FOPH said.Health officials noted that while the number of Covid infection is currently “relatively low, an increase in transmissions of the virus is expected from the fall of 2022. The risk of contracting Covid-19 and the burden for the health system could therefore increase again”.

It added, however, that “the situation differs markedly from that of the last two winters; currently, 97 percent of the population have antibodies against Covid following vaccination or recovery. “People without risk factors are unlikely to develop severe symptoms this fall”.

Dual-strain vaccine

In recent trials, the new Moderna vaccine demonstrated “higher antibody concentrations against the Omicron variants” than the manufacturer’s original Covid vaccine, Swissmedic said.

The previous vaccine was effective against early strains, like Alpha and Delta, offering no immunity against Omicron or its sub-variants, which are currently responsible for all the coronavirus infections detected in Switzerland.

“Compared to the original vaccine, trials have shown that this [vaccine] produces a stronger immune response against the Omicron variants BA.1 and BA.4/5″, Swissmedic said, adding that the new vaccine remains as effective as its predecessor against the original Covid viruses.

Additionally, “a careful review of the application documents submitted on an ongoing basis showed that the vaccine meets the safety, efficacy and quality requirements », the agency noted.

Also, in terms of secondary effects, they are expected to be “similar” to those following administration of the second dose and the first the booster of the original vaccine: fever, muscle pains, and headaches.

According to FOPH, “the bivalent mRNA vaccines, which are tailored to the Omicron BA.1 variant, should be preferred for booster vaccination. However, it is still possible to use the current monovalent mRNA vaccine”.

Additionally, protein-based Nuvaxovid doses will also be available.

READ MORE: BREAKING: Switzerland approves new Covid-19 boosters