COVID-19 vaccine: federal government signs contract with Pfizer

Bern, 07.12.2020 - The federal government is working hard to assure members of the Swiss public quick access to safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines. Since the development and availability of Covid-19 vaccines is subject to a great deal of uncertainty, the government is pursuing various options. Following a letter of intent, the contract has now been signed: Pfizer/BioNTech will deliver 3 million doses of vaccine to Switzerland – provided that Swissmedic has given its approval.

The German biotech company BioNTech is developing and producing the COVID-19 vaccine in collaboration with the American pharmaceuticals group Pfizer. Two doses of BioNTech’s vaccine are likely to be necessary. One-and-a-half million people in Switzerland could thus be vaccinated. Like Moderna, BioNTech has opted for a novel technology: mRNA is a type of messenger molecule that carries the instructions for building proteins. These give the cells of the body the information they need to produce a virus protein. As soon as the protein is produced in the body, the immune system recognises it as a foreign body and thus produces antibodies against the virus. The immune response prepares the body to fight the virus.

Work under way on vaccine recommendations

For the federal government the quality, safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines are crucial. They must be approved by Swissmedic and recommended by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) before being used. The primary goal of the COVID-19 vaccination strategy is to prevent severe cases of the disease among people in vulnerable groups and maintain the capacity of the Swiss healthcare system. The FOPH will publish concrete vaccination recommendations as soon as the Federal Vaccination Commission has formulated them on behalf of the FOPH. The vaccination recommendations depend on the properties and availability of each vaccine. They will take account of the latest scientific findings and the current epidemiological situation.

Further discussions with vaccine manufacturers

So far Switzerland has signed contracts with three vaccine manufacturers whose products are at an advanced stage of clinical development. Besides Pfizer/BioNTech there are contracts with the vaccine manufacturers Moderna (around 4.5 doses) and AstraZeneca (around 5.3 million doses). All three manufacturers are currently undergoing the approval process at Swissmedic. Added to this, Switzerland is a member of the COVAX Initiative as a means of gaining access to vaccines for up to 20 per cent of the Swiss population.
The federal government is still in discussions with various vaccine manufacturers. Since it is not yet clear which vaccines will prevail, it is targeting a number of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines based on different technologies (mRNA, protein-based and vector-based).

Address for enquiries

Federal Office of Public Health,
Infoline Coronavirus +41 58 463 00 00
Infoline for people travelling to Switzerland +41 58 464 44 88


Federal Office of Public Health