Switzerland has authorised Pfizer Inc.’s and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine, the first approved for use in the country.
“The data available to date showed a comparable high level of efficacy in all investigated age groups, thus meeting the safety requirements,” drug regulator Swissmedic said in a statement Saturday. “The level of protection afforded seven days after the second injection is over 90% in adults.”
Switzerland had previously signed contracts with the companies for the delivery of three million vaccine doses. “Deliveries will start in 2020 and occur throughout 2021,” BioNTech said in a separate statement.
The Swiss nod comes after the UK and US among others have already approved the vaccine, while European regulators will be meeting next week to decide. Unlike the US and UK, which conducted emergency authorisations, Swiss and EU regulators have been reviewing the vaccine for a conditional marketing authorization. That process requires a higher evidence level, according to the EU commission’s directorate-general for health.
The Swiss government on Friday announced that it will close restaurants and leisure venues to curb the spread of new infections. It also said it’s considering further steps should the situation worsen.
The nation of about 8.5 million reported 4,478 new infections on Friday, with the seven-day average up 3% compared to last week. It’s had more than 400,000 cases and about 6,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Vaccinations will start in the “coming days,” Swiss Interior Minister Alain Berset said on Twitter.