Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has announced a timetable for the roll out of certificates providing proof of vaccination against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The government is under pressure from business groups to issue Covid-19 immunity certificates as part of a strategy to get the economy back to normal.
A recent letter sent to the Federal council by a group of Swiss business associations demands the government ensure free widely accessible testing be in place by the end of March 2021, that an unfalsifiable digital Corona-Pass be available by the beginning of June, that every resident who wants to be vaccinated be vaccinated by the end of July, and that an improved plan to ensure sufficient medicine and medical supplies be in place by the end of September 2021.
Earlier this month, Switzerland’s parliament passed a law allowing certificates to be issued.
Last week, FOPH said it was coordinating its efforts internationally, with the EU in particular. Anne Lévy, a FOPH director, told a news conference they were aiming to have certificates by summer, a challenging but realistic aim.
According to Lévy, the records will not be kept in a central database. There is no legal basis for this. Instead paper and local digital records would be provided. The digital record could be a bar code stored locally on a mobile phone that could be presented for scanning to gain access to travel or concerts.
What the certificate would contain is unclear. Some, such as Andreas Faller, a former FOPH director, told Le Matin that proof of non-contamination by the virus should not be limited to those who have been vaccinated. Those who have been infected in the past or have recently tested negative should also have access to a digital certificate, he said.
However, Anne Lévy, said that recent negative test results or records of past infection would not initially be included on the certificates, although they are something that could be added later.
A key challenge for the government is getting its hands on enough vaccine to provide the population with access to vaccination. By 28 March 2021, only 6.2% of Switzerland’s population was fully vaccinated. To fully vaccinate all those who want it by summer would probably require the pace of vaccination to increase 10-fold.
Given the vaccine supply shortage, some pharmacists in Geneva and Vaud have described a solution limited to proof of vaccination as discriminatory, according to watson. Those who are unvaccinated would be deprived of access to events and travel. Instead the pharmacists propose a Covid passport that also records recent negative test results.