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Covid-19: Switzerland approves Novavax vaccine

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

Novavax vaccine vials. Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP
Novavax vaccine vials. Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

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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Switzerland authorises Moderna vaccine for children over six

Children between the ages of six and 11 will now be able to get a Moderna shot, Swiss health authority said.

Switzerland authorises Moderna vaccine for children over six

Until now only the Pfizer vaccine has been approved in Switzerland for this group, starting at age five.

However, on Friday the country’s drug regulatory body, Swissmedic, gave the green light to start administering Moderna’s vaccine to children over six, who will receive two half doses of 50 micrograms at an interval of four weeks.

Those over 12 and adults are injected the full dose.

The agency said that based on clinical studies, young kids react to the Moderna vaccine much like older children and adults do.

“The most commonly reported side effects such as pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, shivering or nausea, were similar to those in adolescents and young adults”. Swissmedic said.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Covid vaccines for children in Switzerland

Also, “fever occurred more frequently in children, whereas muscle and joint pains were seen less often than in adolescents or adults. The undesirable effects were generally mild to moderate and lasted for a few days”.

While some parents may be reluctant to vaccinate their children against the coronavirus, health officials say the vaccines are safe. They also argue that in order to achieve herd immunity, all age groups should have their shots.

While the number of Covid infections has dropped significantly in Switzerland in the past two months, epidemiologists are predicting a new outbreak in the fall and winter, when cooler weather drives more people indoors, where the yet-unknown variants will be more transmissible.

READ MORE: How can I get my children vaccinated against Covid in Switzerland?