ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss drugmaker Roche’s chairman, Christoph Franz, favours requiring people to get a vaccination against COVID-19 when one is available and proven safe and effective, newspaper Handelszeitung reported on Wednesday, citing an interview.
Franz, former chief executive of German airline Lufthansa, acknowledged such a mandate would be controversial, but said “a mandatory vaccination creates freedom in other areas”, Handelszeitung reported, as it could help halt the spread of disease that has led to lockdowns.
Roche told Reuters the article reflected Franz’s “personal opinion”. The company does not make vaccines but does have a manufacturing deal with Regeneron to make its experimental COVID-19 antibody treatment.
Poll results released in October by the partly European Union-funded Vaccine Confidence Project (VCP), a global surveillance programme, showed such a vaccine mandate could have a chilling effect on people’s willingness to get a shot.
All respondents said they would be less likely to accept a COVID-19 vaccine if it were mandated by employers, the poll showed.
On Wednesday, a World Health Organization official stopped short of answering a question about whether a COVID-19 vaccine should be mandatory for children, before they are allowed to go to school.
“We really need to see what they (vaccines) do in adults, and then look carefully at how to move into children,” said Kate O’Brien, who heads up the Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals department at the WHO, during a social media event.
O’Brien said it first must be determined if a vaccine can not only prevent infections or death, but also halt transmission of the virus to another person. “If they’re going to be used in kids, what we’re really also concerned about, and want to know about, is whether or not that transmission protection is something that could really benefit children,” she said.
(Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)