Covid-19 vaccine: federal government signs agreement with biotechfirm Moderna

Bern, 07.08.2020 - Many research institutions around the world are working on the development of a vaccine against the new coronavirus. The US biotech firm Moderna Therapeutics is working on one of the leading vaccine candidates. In order to guarantee Switzerland early access to the vaccine of Moderna, the federal government has concluded an agreement for the procurement of 4.5 million vaccine doses. In parallel to this, the federal government is in talks with other vaccine companies.

The federal government wants to ensure that the Swiss population has rapid access to a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine. At the same time, Switzerland is supporting multilateral projects for the fair distribution of a future vaccine. While no vaccine has yet been approved for the market anywhere in the world, intensive development and research work is underway.

The federal government has an agreement in place with the biotech firm Moderna, which is already at an advanced stage with its vaccine project. If the vaccine successfully passes the clinical trial phase and can be approved for the Swiss market, Switzerland will receive 4.5 million vaccine doses. As it is expected that two vaccine doses will be necessary, this means that it will be possible to vaccinate 2.25 million people.

Switzerland is one of the first countries to conclude an agreement with Moderna.

Moderna’s mRNA vaccine is based on an innovative technology: the mRNA is a kind of messenger molecule that carries the building instructions for the production of proteins. This tells the body's cells how to produce the virus protein. As soon as the protein is produced in the body, it is identified as an antigen by the immune system, which then produces antibodies against the virus, thus preparing the body to combat the real virus.

Further vaccine projects under evaluation

At present, it is not yet possible to say with any certainty which companies or vaccines will ultimately prevail and which vaccines will be possible to make available to the Swiss population. The federal government is therefore adopting a diversified approach in order to increase the chances of gaining rapid and secure access to a vaccine. The FOPH is thus holding further talks with vaccine candidates in parallel to the conclusion of the agreement with Moderna. The Federal Council has allocated a total of CHF 300 million for the procurement of the vaccine.

It is expected that there will initially not be enough vaccine doses available for a broad vaccination of the entire Swiss population. The vaccination strategy will take account of the latest scientific knowledge and prioritise – with the close involvement of the Federal Commission for Vaccination (FCV).

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Federal Office of Public Health