Swiss give green light for Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 jab

·2-min read

Swiss authorities on Saturday authorised the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 following a two-month review.

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The Swissmedic regulatory authority made the announcement a day after the Federal Council said all restaurants and bars would close from 22 December in an attempt to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Sports and leisure centres, as well as libraries, museums and other cultural institutions will also close, officials said.

"After a meticulous review of the available information, Swissmedic concluded that the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech is safe and that its benefit outweighs the risks," Swissmedic said in a statement.

It is the first vaccine against the coronavirus that has been cleared for use in the country.

Safety

"The safety of patients is an essential prerequisite, especially where the authorisation of vaccines is concerned," said Swissmedic director Raimund Bruhin.

"Thanks to the rolling procedure and our flexibly organised teams, we nevertheless managed to reach a decision quickly - while also fully satisfying the three most important requirements of safety, efficacy and quality."

Switzerland, which has a population of 8.6 million people, has secured nearly 16 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, in deals with three manufacturers. It has signed contracts for around three million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, around 7.5 million doses of Moderna's vaccine, and around 5.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

With all three manufacturers' vaccines, two doses are required per person.

Nearly 404,000 people have tested positive for the the virus in Switzerland since the beginning of the pandemic with just over 6,000 deaths.

Grim statistics

Neighbouring Italy has witnessed 68,000 coronavirus deaths - the highest toll in Europe. On Saturday, the government imposed new restrictions for the Christmas and New Year period.

Non-essential shops as well as bars and restaurants have been shut. Travel between regions has also been banned.

Prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, conceded that authorities would be unable to monitor if people were abiding by the rules. He asked Italians to follow the regulations and welcome only two adult guests into each home.

Citizens in France were warned on Friday that a longer than expected vaccine rollout would mean a return to normal life in autumn 2021.

"Vaccines are a major source of hope but if you look at the vaccination capabilities that we will have in France and elsewhere in Europe, we will need time," said Jean-François Delfraissy, head of France's Scientific Council, told BFM TV.

“The production of vaccines will be slower than envisioned 15 days or three weeks ago,” he added. “We will not face a vaccine shortfall but we will have something that is more spread out over time.”