Swiss stump up more cash to buy a Covid-19 vaccine
The Swiss government has earmarked an additional CHF100 million ($111 million) to buy an anti-Covid vaccine.
Interior Minister Alain Berset, who announced the news on Wednesday, said the aim was to provide a “safe and efficient product of high-quality” for the population in Switzerland. The allocation of funds comes on top of CHF300 million approved earlier this year.
So far, Switzerland has assured reservations for about 13 million doses of prospective vaccines from two suppliers and an international programme by the World Health Organization.
He added that several potential suppliers of the vaccine were considered, but it was not possible to say when a suitable product will be ready for distribution at some point next year.
It is also in negotiations with Pfizer/Biontech and hopes to strike a deal for the delivery of another three million vaccines shortly.
However, Berset cautioned that the national regulator Swissmedic, will have to examine and approve a product before it can be distributed.
In a first phase, the government aims to immunise people with a health risk. Berset reiterated there were no plans to declare vaccinations mandatory across the country.
Preparations coordinated by the armed forces are underway to organise the logistics for distributing the vaccines across the country when one or several products will be ready.
“Our primary goal is to improve the current health situation,” he said at a news conference on Wednesday.
Health officials estimate about 60-70% of the population must be inoculated against the new coronavirus to get the pandemic under control.
Berset said the current infection figures in Switzerland remained “alarming” even as the number of confirmed daily cases has begun to stabilise over the past few days.
On Wednesday, the Federal Office for Public Health reported 8,270 new cases of Covid-19 infections bringing the total number up to more than 243,000 cases.
Berset said it was crucial to reduce the coronavirus reproduction rate well beyond 1 to prevent overburdening hospitals and health staff.