Criticism is loud: Is Switzerland going to lose the one-dose vaccination from the USA?



Criticism is loud: Is Switzerland going to lose the one-dose vaccination from the USA?

 The  pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson has come up with a promising vaccine. Several politicians do not understand why the federal government has not yet signed a contract with the company.

It was her turn on Wednesday: Helga Ott from Thurgau was vaccinated against Corona at the vaccination center in Frauenfeld

It was her turn on Wednesday: Helga Ott from Thurgau was vaccinated against Corona at the vaccination center in Frauenfeld

Alexandra Wey / KEYSTONE


 The re are currently 434,000 corona vaccination doses in Switzerland. Another 127,000 cans will arrive on Monday. By the end of February it should then be 1.56 million, with which around 780,000 people could be vaccinated.

Even if all doses available up to that point are actually administered by the end of February, Health Minister Alain Berset’s goal is unlikely to be fully achieved. He wants to have vaccinated most of the residents of old people’s and nursing homes by the end of January and all over 75 year olds by the end of February. Around 775,000 people in Switzerland are 75 years of age or older. However, there are around 20,000 other people between the ages of 55 and 75 in the retirement and nursing homes.

How it will continue from March is unclear. “To make a statement about this would be dubious,” says Nora Kronig, Vice Director at the Federal Office of Public Health and responsible for vaccine procurement in an interview. Since the federal government would like to receive as many cans as possible as quickly as possible, talks are being held with the manufacturers about the next deliveries.

In addition, the Astrazeneca vaccine is likely to be added. Most experts expect Switzerland to grant approval at the end of the month. Nevertheless, no statement can be made about the quantities that Astrazeneca will deliver, says Kronig.

At the same time, one has to struggle with imponderables. It was announced on Friday that Pfizer would deliver fewer doses to Europe than originally announced. “©

 The  temporary reduction will affect all European countries,” said the Norwegian health authority. It is not clear how long it will take until Pfizer will again reach maximum production capacity.


 The  US pharmaceutical company promises to expand production facilities to produce more cans. However, this will have a temporary effect on deliveries from the end of January to the beginning of February. Exactly how this will affect Switzerland is still unclear.

With the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, one dose would be enough

At the same time, many politicians and observers are wondering why the federal government has not concluded further contracts with vaccine manufacturers who are well advanced with their vaccines. So far, Switzerland has relied on vaccines from Pfizer / Biontech, Moderna and Astrazeneca. However, the substance of the US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson is also making significant progress.


 The  big advantage: In contrast to the other three vaccines, only one instead of two doses is required. Johnson & Johnson expects to release the data from the pivotal Phase III study by the end of January. Experts also hope a protective effect of up to 85 percent. That of Pfizer / Biontech and Moderna is around 95 percent.

This week the company presented promising interim results from an earlier study. Almost a month after the vaccination, neutralizing corona antibodies were found in the body of 90 percent of the study participants. This value increased to 100 percent on day 57 for all participants between 18 and 55 years of age. ©

 The  antibodies remained stable for 71 days, the test period of the study did not last longer at the time of publication.

GLP National Councilor Martin Bäumle (ZH)

GLP National Councilor Martin Bäumle (ZH)

Gaetan Bally / KEYSTONE

GLP National Councilor Martin Bäumle cannot understand the cautious strategy of vaccination procurement: “I said last April that Switzerland should conclude contracts for the ten most promising candidates.” In the worst case, the federal government might have ordered too many vaccine doses. However, Switzerland could then have given this to poorer countries at a low price. “That could have been debited under development aid,” says Bäumle.


 The  Zurich politician says that Switzerland should have signed a contract with Johnson & Johnson long ago. He regards the 17.3 million cans ordered so far as absolute minimalism. “We were lucky that the three vaccines we had ordered made it to the finish line first.”

“A quick shot is certainly unnecessary”

If the vaccination campaign could be accelerated with further contracts, he would be very supportive, says SVP National Councilor Albert Rösti. “©

 The  more different vaccines we have available, the more the population’s trust in the vaccinations will increase.”

Do one thing and not leave the other. BDP National Councilor Lorenz Hess relies on this approach. Switzerland has enough doses to immunize those willing to vaccinate by summer. “But if other vaccines are about to be approved, they must be checked just as seriously as those that Switzerland has already ordered.” But he was against ordering vaccinations in advance. ©

 The  federal government has enough time to think about further contracts. “A quick shot is certainly unnecessary.”

SP National Councilor Flavia Wasserfallen, on the other hand, sees no need for further contracts. Switzerland was able to buy over 15 million doses, which is enough to immunize all those willing to vaccinate. She currently sees the bottleneck in the cantons, which are currently vaccinating significantly less than they have doses. That is currently the real problem.


 The  federal government wants to remain active until the end

Nora Kronig, Head of International Affairs at the Federal Office of Public Health.

Nora Kronig, Head of International Affairs at the Federal Office of Public Health.

Peter Klaunzer / KEYSTONE

Nora Kronig from the Federal Office of Public Health defends herself against the criticism that she has not concluded any further contracts so far. “We have succeeded in securing the three fastest vaccines”. At the same time, the federal government is holding further talks. “As before, we are negotiating with those manufacturers whose vaccines we consider promising,” says Kronig.

In addition, it is also unclear whether additional vaccinations will one day be necessary due to the mutations. “After all, we still know far too little about the duration of the effectiveness”. For tactical reasons, Kronig does not want to say when further contracts can be expected. But she assures: “We will remain active until the end”. ©

 The  aim of the vaccination campaign is to end the pandemic as quickly as possible.

Kronig reminds that Switzerland can procure another 3.2 million cans. Because the country took part in the international initiative called Covax. This is intended to secure global access to corona vaccines. Over 75 high-income countries, including Switzerland, and 90 poor countries take part. ©

 The  initiative aims to ensure that all participants are treated equally in relation to the size of the population.

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Criticism loud Switzerland lose onedose vaccination USA


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