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Covid-19: Switzerland approves Novavax vaccine

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Covid-19: Switzerland approves Novavax vaccine
Novavax vaccine vials. Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

Switzerland has approved the Novavax vaccine, the first Covid vaccine made with ‘traditional’ vaccine technology to be approved.


SwissMedic, Switzerland’s peak body for therapeutic medicine, announced the approval on Wednesday. 

Anyone over the age of 18 can be vaccinated with Novavax. 

SwissMedic said the vaccine provides around 90 percent protection against Covid, which is roughly similar to that provided by existing vaccinations. 

Authorities hope the approval will encourage some vaccination holdouts to get the jab, due to the fact it is made with more familiar technology than the vaccines which are currently on the market.

The vaccine can also be stored in typical refrigerators rather than in specially designed freezers, which makes it easier to administer, particularly in regional and rural areas or via mobile vaccination centres. 

The vaccine, named Nuvaxovid, has been given approval for two years, Swiss media reports. 


What is an inactivated vaccine? 

The Novavax vaccine is the first ‘inactivated vaccine’ to be given EU approval, having received the EMA’s thumbs up in December 2021. 

Inactivated vaccines are the best known examples of vaccines and have been administered for centuries. 

Inactivated vaccines use dead particles of a disease or pathogen. When administered, the recipient will generate antibodies to the disease but will not contract it, due to the fact the particles are dead. 

Inactivated vaccines are known in German under the scary Totimpfstoff (dead vaccine) moniker, or as virus inactivé in French.


 Why is this important? 

The three vaccines currently administered in Switzerland – Moderna, Pfizer/Biontech and Johnson and Johnson – all use different technology. 

Both Moderna and Pfizer/Biontech use mRNA technology, while Johnson and Johnson – along with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which has not been approved in Switzerland but has been administered across Europe – use vector technology. 

While both of these technologies have been shown to be safe, authorities believe some vaccine holdouts have indicated a reluctance to embrace newer technologies and would prefer to receive a Covid vaccine using technology which has been proven safe for centuries. 

A survey in neighbouring Germany showed that 56 percent of unvaccinated people would be more willing to vaccinate with an inactivated vaccine, should one become available. 

More information about the Novavax vaccine in Switzerland can be found here. 



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