Switzerland began introducing the COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, and a nursing home in the 1990s received its first injection just four days after Pfizer-BioNTech was approved.
A woman living in the Lucerne region of central Switzerland was the first person in continental Europe to be immunized with a Pfizer-BioNTech sting in a vaccination campaign.
Switzerland is stubbornly battling high coronavirus cases, recording about 5,000 fresh infections and 100 new deaths in a country of 8.6 million people on Wednesday.
As of Tuesday, bars and restaurants began closing again across the country in an attempt to stop the outbreak, while flights to and from Britain and South Africa were banned after the discovery of a new variant of the virus that British officials believe is spreading far more easily.
Britain is the first country to apply the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and 90-year-old grandmother Margaret Keenan received a stroke on December 8.
European Union countries should start vaccinating on Sunday.
Switzerland has recorded more than 421,000 infections and over 6,400 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The Swiss regulatory authority announced on Saturday that it had approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech after a two-month review.
The elderly and those with pre-existing conditions – a total of two million people – are first in line for immunization.
“I am very pleased that we have now been able to start vaccinations in the canton of Lucerne,” Guido Graf, head of the region’s health service, said in a statement.
The neighboring canton of Zug has also started vaccinating in a nursing home.
“There is great hope that vaccination will effectively fight the spread of the coronavirus and bring it under control,” said Zug’s cantonal health director, Martin Pfister.
Among the major Swiss cities, Geneva and Basel are due to start vaccination campaigns on Monday, while Zurich will start on 4 January.
The Geneva hospital received the first 5,000 doses on Wednesday.
“After a month of virtual discussions, things are becoming tangible,” said Nathalie Vernaz, a cantonal pharmacist.
In early November, Geneva had the worst per capita infection rates in Europe.
The military is sharing doses
Manufactured by the American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and the German biotechnology company BioNTech, the vaccine is based on a new technology that uses genetic material in the form of mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid).
The Swiss army stores and distributes doses of the vaccine, which must be kept at -70 degrees Celsius (-94 degrees Fahrenheit).
He received an initial delivery of 107,000 doses on Tuesday, and should be followed by 250,000 a month from January.
The vaccine is not mandatory, but it is free.
Switzerland has provided about 15.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, in contracts with three manufacturers.
It has signed contracts for about three million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech, about 7.5 million from Moderna and about 5.3 million from AstraZeneca.
Each of the three different vaccines requires two doses per person.
The Swiss have provided another three million doses of the Modern Vaccine
© 2020 AFP
Citation: Swiss rapid start of vaccination against Covid-19 (2020, 23 December) retrieved 23 December 2020 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-12-swiss-swift-covid-vaccinations.html
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