Switzerland approves first protein-based Covid vaccine

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Switzerland approves first protein-based Covid vaccine
Novavax vaccine vials. Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

Switzerland's medical regulator Swissmedic this week authorised its first protein-based Covid vaccine- the Nuvaxovid vaccine - for people aged 18 and over in the country.


This is the fourth vaccine against Covid-19 approved in Switzerland after the shots from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson were approved in late 2020 and 2021.

Nuvaxovid is from manufacturer Novavax. It is a protein-based vaccine, unlike the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna and the viral vector vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, the regulator said.


It has a non-infectious component from the surface of the coronavirus. When the person's immune cells come into contact with it, it triggers a protective immune response.

READ ALSO: Booster 2.0: Is Switzerland gearing up for a fourth Covid jab?

According to the documentation assessed by the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, the level of protection seven days after the second dose of the vaccine is approximately 90 per cent.

The Swiss government had pre-ordered one million doses of the new vaccine, with an option for five million more.

What is an inactivated vaccine?

The Nuvaxovid vaccine is the first 'inactivated vaccine' to be approved by the European Union for Covid-19.

Inactivated vaccines are the most well-known type of vaccine and have been used for a little over a century.

They contain dead particles of a disease or pathogen. Because the particles are dead, the recipient will generate antibodies to the disease but will not contract it.

Inactivated vaccines are known as Totimpfstoff (dead vaccine) in German and virus inactivé in French.

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The three vaccines administered in Switzerland – Moderna, Pfizer/Biontech and Johnson and Johnson – all use different technology, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNtech are mRNA-based and were the first vaccines to use this technology in mass production. Johnson & Johnson is a vector vaccine.

Instead of carrying an inactivated (or dead) part of the virus, like the Novavax vaccines does, so that the immune system can learn what it looks like to fight it, the three newer vaccines carry instructions (either via mRNA, in the case of Moderna and Pfizer, or DNA codes, like the J&J vaccine). The instructions are to direct our cells and promote an immune reaction.

While the technologies used have been proven to be safe, authorities believe some vaccine holdouts have indicated a reluctance to embrace newer technologies. These people would prefer to receive a Covid vaccine using technology that has been shown to be safe for centuries.

There has been no significant increase in vaccine acceptance in Austria and Germany, though, where the Nuvaxovid vaccine has been administered for weeks.


READ ALSO: Why is German-speaking Europe lagging on Covid vaccines?

Switzerland has seen a drop in the number of new infections and lower hospitalisation rates since last month. However, just under 70 per cent of its population is fully-vaccinated, with 42.78 per cent of Swiss having taken a third dose (booster) of a Covid vaccine.


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Anonymous 2022/09/12 09:07
Dead or inactive vaccines are in use only for a little over a century: Live attenuated are the oldest kind, used for centuries. Also the fact that the novavax availability hasn't led to increase in vaccination rates tells something about the so-called vaccine holdouts.

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