On 30 June 2021, the Swiss Federal Council decided to transfer a large part of the 5.4 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine that have been ordered to the COVAX Facility.
Switzerland is thus able to make a substantial contribution to global efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, reported the Swiss government.
COVAX is an initiative to ensure equal and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across the world run by Geneva-based Gavi, an organisation focused on global vaccination initiatives.
The Swiss government is focusing on using mRNA vaccines, which have so far proved to be the most effective, particularly against new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are based on this technology. However, other vaccines are also to be used in Switzerland.
The Swiss government has decided to hand on 4 million of a total of around 5.4 million doses of AstraZeneca to the COVAX Facility. This leaves 1.4 million doses of the vector-based vaccine for use in Switzerland. These doses are to be used primarily for people who have an intolerance to mRNA vaccines or have received their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine abroad, and for those who want an alternative to an mRNA vaccine.
The AstraZeneca vaccine will be available for use in Switzerland as soon as Swissmedic, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, has authorised it and the FOPH and the Federal Vaccination Commission has passed the vaccination recommendation on the basis of Swissmedic’s authorisation.
COVAX was set up by the WHO and other organisations in April 2020, and is operated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) and the WHO. As co-chair of the Friends of the COVAX Facility, Switzerland has played an active role in setting it up.