COVID-19 vaccine: Confederation signs contract with AstraZeneca

The Confederation is banking on the acquisition of several COVID-19 vaccines from various technologies (mRNA, protein-based, vector-based), because it is not yet clear which vaccines will be required

The Confederation wants the Swiss population to have rapid access to vaccines against COVID-19. It is not yet clear which ones will prevail in the long term. This is why the Confederation adopts a diversified strategy. In the meantime, it has contracted with British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the Swedish government for the delivery of up to 5.3 million doses. The Swiss population will thus have access to another vaccine against COVID-19 if the clinical trial and authorization by Swissmedic are successful.

The agreement between the European Commission and AstraZeneca on the delivery of up to 400 million doses to Europe forms the basis of the contract. These doses can be ordered by states based on their population and be withdrawn if authorized. Sweden will order the doses for non-EU EEA and EFTA countries and sell them back to the corresponding states without profit. If authorized, AstraZeneca’s vaccine will be delivered directly to Switzerland. At the beginning of October, AstraZeneca had already submitted an authorization request to Swissmedic.

Vector-based technology

The British company developed the AZD1222 vaccine in collaboration with the University of Oxford and its spin-off company Vaccitech. It is a vaccine based on vectors (adenovirus), which expresses the surface protein of the coronavirus (spike protein of SARS-COV 2). It prepares the immune system to attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus when it infects the body.

Diversified strategy

The Confederation is banking on the acquisition of several vaccines against COVID-19 derived from various technologies (mRNA, protein-based, vector-based), because it is not yet clear which vaccines will be required. It is currently in negotiations with the manufacturers of other promising vaccine candidates with a view to concluding additional contracts if necessary.

In August 2020, the Confederation signed a contract with the company Moderna for 4.5 million doses of vaccines. In addition, it participates in the international COVAX initiative to obtain vaccines covering up to 20% of the population. The vaccination strategy and recommendations will depend on the vaccines selected and take into account the latest scientific knowledge.

Besides prevention, it is also important to treat COVID-19 infections. In summer 2020, the Confederation therefore secured access to an immunotherapeutic drug produced by Molecular Partners. In some cases, the drug could also be given prophylactically to protect against infection (passive immunization), for example to exposed hospital staff or other risk groups.

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