The US and EU have announced the possibility of beginning vaccinations in December 2020, however, in Switzerland it is likely to take longer.
Philippe Girard, a director at Swissmedic, the body that approves drugs in Switzerland, discussed the process in an interview on RTS.
Unlike the US and the EU, Switzerland has no law allowing emergency drug approval. This means the regular approval process cannot be bypassed as it can be in some other places.
Currently, Swissmedic does not have all of the data from the companies producing vaccines. The most promising ones include vaccines by AstraZeneca, Moderna et Pfizer. Girard is hoping the data will arrive before the end of the year as this would allow the possibility of vaccines being approved in the first quarter of next year.
Yesterday, the CEO of AstraZeneca announced further testing after concerns emerged about test data that showed an efficacy of 70% for the vaccine it has developed with Oxford University. It appears that one of the two cohorts behind this result contained no over-55s.
According to Girard, Swissmedic has a strong focus on medicine safety and the side effects. He described those who are vaccinated after an emergency authorisation as forming part of the test group.
Currently, no Covid-19 vaccine tests have been run in Switzerland.
When asked if Swissmedic was under pressure, Girard said the organisation was under significant pressure to work fast but not to reach a particular decision.
On the question of risks associated with the new type of mRNA vaccines, the director said that the mechanism of introducing a vector that triggers an antibody response is known, but the way these vaccines do it is different.