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

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 Friday
Prices of generic drugs are high in Switzerland. Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Weekend weather: sun followed by rain

After a few days of variable weather, sun and blue skies are on the horizon for Saturday.

As far as temperatures, 28 degrees are expected in the north of the country and up to 30 degrees in the south.

By Sunday, however, weather will take a turn for the worse. “There will be heavy showers and thunderstorms”, even though a few rays of sun could pierce the cloud cover in the afternoon, according to meteorologist Roger Perret.

Temperatures will drop to between 22 and 24 degrees — still warm for the end of the summer.

More people are getting vaccinated

It looks like the immunisation campaign is finally picking up, with reports that more than 10,000 “first doses” were given in Switzerland in a single day this week — 1,000 more than the previous week.

The seven-day average is also increasing.

While a single dose in not sufficient to protect against Covid, those who received the initial shot will get the second one in about four weeks.

This development follows a ‘dry spell’, as the number of daily doses administered in Switzerland had slowed considerably in recent weeks.  
As a comparison, at the height of the vaccination campaign in early June, 113,300 doses of vaccine were administered daily. The highest total this week was 23,300.

While more than 50 percent of Switzerland’s population is now vaccinated,  the country’s rate is still  below the European average of 54 percent.

READ MORE: Half of Swiss population now double-jabbed against Covid

Price of generic drugs is too high in Switzerland

The prices of even the cheapest generics in Switzerland are on average more than two and a half times higher than those in 15 other benchmark countries, according to Swiss price watchdog Stefan Meierhans.

He noted that generic prices are on average 165 percent more expensive in Switzerland. Those of brand-name medications whose patents have expired are 64 percent higher.

The reason is that in Switzerland, generic prices are determined on the basis of the cost of original medicines with the same active ingredients.

To bring the prices of generics into the range practiced in other countries, he proposes to put all the original drugs whose patents have expired and the generics in one group. A reimbursement amount is then determined based on an inexpensive generic.

Such a system would save at least 100 million francs in basic insurance, according to the price watchdog’s calculations.

READ MORE: Why is Switzerland so expensive?

Covid pandemic: a historical perspective

In 2020, Switzerland had the highest monthly excess mortality rate since the Spanish flu in 1918 — including all seasonal flu peaks and heat waves.

This is the finding of research led by  historian Kaspar Staub from the University of Zurich and  epidemiologist Marcel Zwahlen from the University of Bern.

For their study, the researchers looked back over 140 years, comparing the actual with the expected deaths on a monthly basis, and breaking them down according to age structure.

The calculations showed that excess mortality was 6 percent in 1890, 49 percent in 1918, and 14 percent in 2020.

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

Heating with wood to become more expensive, redacted vaccine contracts, and other Swiss news in our roundup on Thursday.

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

Heating with wood is starkly more expensive

It’s not only the prices for fossil fuels, oil and gas that have risen sharply in Switzerland. Even those who rely on alternative energies such as wood as a fuel currently have to dig deeper into their wallets, SRF reported.

The pellets made from pressed sawdust are 46 percent more expensive than a year ago. “In general, we can summarise that the increase is due to higher production costs,” said Peter Lehmann, President of the “proPellets” Association. In addition to processing, wood is also more expensive.

Last year, almost 50 percent more pellet-based heating systems were built than in 2020, which has increased the demand for pellets. However, Lehmann assumes that the price will not decrease in the medium term; wood as a raw material is too much in demand in the current situation.

READ ALSO: Five of the biggest challenges facing Switzerland right now

Swiss government publishes redacted vaccine contracts

After a long period of resistance, the Swiss government disclosed the vaccine purchase contracts. Before that, however, it had redacted them out extensively, Watson reported.

The authorities have kept it a secret even the duration of secrecy, so the Swiss won’t know how long it will take until they can see the complete contracts. The lack of transparency has brought on criticism against the government.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why vaccinations are not mandatory in Switzerland

Almost 10 percent of Ukrainian refugees have found jobs in Switzerland

A total of 9.4 percent of adults possessing a special “S” permit are working, with most employed in the restaurant sector, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) said.

Nearly a quarter of them (23 percent) are active in the restaurant industry. In addition, 17 percent work in the “planning, consulting, IT” sector. Agriculture and education each account for 8 percent of those with the S status.

There are currently 61 424 status S applications in Switzerland, of which 59 411 persons have been granted S status, SEM said.

READ ALSO: 200,000 in 2022: Immigration fuelling Swiss population surge

Federal Council wants to decide on sanction policy in August

Switzerland’s Federal Council wants to discuss whether or not to adopt the so-called “thematic” sanctions of the European Union, Tagesanzeiger said.

These sanctions work differently than those imposed on a specific country. Instead, they allow measures to be taken against individuals, companies and organisations from different countries that violate certain rights. They are primarily concerned about violations regarding chemical weapons, cyber and human rights.

Specifically, in March 2021, the EU decided to sanction some persons, organisations and institutions from North Korea, Libya, Eritrea, South Sudan, Russia and China for serious human rights violations.

The controversial decision could lead to Switzerland sanctioning China, with Minister of Economic Affairs Guy Parmelin against adopting the measures.

READ ALSO: Switzerland bans imports of Russian gold