ZURICH (Reuters) -Everyone in Switzerland who wants to be vaccinated against COVID-19 should be able to get a shot by summer, a Swiss health official said on Tuesday, as the nation anticipates imminent approval of a second vaccine, this one from Moderna.
With 233,000 doses delivered by Pfizer and BioNTech, so far, the country is expecting vaccine deliveries to hit at least 1.5 million doses by the end of February, provided Moderna’s shot wins the regulator’s blessing.
The shots require two doses several weeks apart, to confer maximum protection shown in clinical trials to be around 95%. Switzerland is concentrating initial shots on older people, including in nursing homes, and those with chronic diseases.
Switzerland has ordered a total of about 15 million doses, including from other manufacturers whose products have yet to be approved, after setting aside 400 million Swiss francs ($455 million) to buy shots. High global demand from virtually everywhere, combined with limited production, means there is too little to go around.
“We continue to be in negotiations, to see how we can boost volumes,” said Nora Kronig, head of the Swiss Federal Health Ministry’s international division that is leading talks with companies, during a press conference in Bern.
Kronig declined to say if talks extend to companies including Johnson & Johnson, which is due shortly to release results of clinical trials of its one-dose vaccine in tens of thousands of volunteers.
Switzerland has, so far, recorded 28 documented cases of COVID-19 infections caused by an especially infectious variant of the new coronavirus that has been circulating rapidly in Britain. That’s up from just a handful reported late last month.
($1 = 0.8799 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by John Miller, editing by Silke Koltrowitz)