Switzerland authorizes first Covid-19 vaccine

Source: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Switzerland has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in the country, the Swiss drugs regulator Swissmedic said Saturday.

“The data available to date showed a comparable high level of efficacy in all investigated age groups, thus meeting the safety requirements,” Swissmedic said in a statement on its website.

“The safety of patients is an essential prerequisite, especially where the authorization of vaccines is concerned,” said Swissmedic Director Raimund Bruhin in the release. “Thanks to the rolling procedure and our flexibly organized teams, we nevertheless managed to reach a decision quickly – while also fully satisfying the three most important requirements of safety, efficacy and quality,” he added.

The European Medicines Agency, the drugs regulator for the European Union, to which Switzerland does not belong, is still evaluating the vaccine and has called for an exceptional meeting on December 21 to potentially grant its authorization.

New restrictions introduced as the situation deteriorates: Switzerland on Friday announced new coronavirus measures that include closing restaurants as well as cultural, sports and recreation centres from December 22 until January 22 to contain the spread of the virus.

Switzerland and neighbouring principality Liechtenstein on Friday recorded 4,478 new coronavirus infections within 24 hours, according to the Swiss Federal Office for Public Health. The total tally of Covid-19 infections in Switzerland stands at 403,989, and 6,561 people have died, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The situation has deteriorated dramatically in recent days and weeks,” President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga told reporters at a press conference.

She said the Swiss healthcare system is under strain and “that is why we need additional curbs.”