(This March 9 story corrects figure to 900,000 shots administered, not 900,000 people getting a first shot in paragraph 2)
ZURICH (Reuters) – Switzerland expects to get 1 million vaccine doses from Moderna and Pfizer this month, a senior Federal Health Ministry vaccine official said on Tuesday, after receiving some 1.1 million in January and February.
“We have steadily rising delivery volumes every month, and we expect that will help us reach our targets,” Nora Kronig, who heads the health ministry’s vaccine logistics effort, adding 900,000 people have so far had their first shot and 320,000 a second booster.
The planned March deliveries exceed initial expectations, and Kronig said they’ll be sufficient to make up for slightly lower volumes that arrived last month.
Switzerland expects to vaccinate all of its 8.6 million residents who want a COVID-19 shot by summer, and Kronig’s latest comments suggest the nation is on track, especially with potential approvals of new vaccines in coming weeks. Mass vaccinations beyond older people are due to begin in the second quarter.
New infections reported on Tuesday totaled 1,378 cases, well below the 10,000-plus record from Nov. 2. Another 13 deaths were reported.
Even so, cases have slightly risen since mid-February, driven by accelerating infections with new variants of the virus, leaving the pandemic’s trajectory in coming weeks uncertain, a scientist on Switzerland’s COVID-19 task force said.
Task force member Martin Ackermann, a biologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, urged more testing, continued hygiene measures — and aggressive vaccinations as more shots arrive.
“At this time, the number of people who have gotten shots is still too small to have a significant influence on new infections,” Ackermann said. “Speeding up the pace will pay off, once more shots become available.”
(Reporting by John Miller, editing by John Revill)