Switzerland Approves Pfizer Shot as First Covid-19 Vaccine

Switzerland has authorized 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, adding that the vaccine can’t yet be given to anyone under 16. “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. The first delivery of about 100,000 doses will arrive this year, with larger batches to follow, according to a separate statement from the Federal Office of Public Health. Vaccinations of people in vulnerable groups can begin in December as well.

The Swiss nod comes after the U.K. and U.S. among others have already approved the vaccine, while European Union regulators will be meeting next week to decide. Unlike the U.S. and U.K., which conducted emergency authorizations, 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 people 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.

The public health office said that the vaccines from Moderna and AstraZeneca are still undergoing Swissmedic’s approval process and the latter is “unlikely” to be available until the middle of next year.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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