Top health official defends Swiss record on fair vaccine access 

Virginie Masserey has defended Switzerland against criticism that it is being too selfish in its vaccine policy and should do more for poorer countries. Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Switzerland has invested a lot of resources to promote fairer vaccine access across the world, says Virginie Masserey, head of infections control at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). 

This content was published on July 27, 2021 - 11:41

Speaking with Swiss public broadcaster RTS on Monday evening, she defended its record on the issue. This comes after World Health Organization director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus said the Alpine country should export vaccine doses to poorer countries that need them, rather than administering the jabs to adolescents aged 12-16.  

Masserey said Switzerland was not stocking more vaccines than it needs for the current campaign of vaccinating adults. “All the doses that we have purchased under contracts are still with the manufacturers in the process of production, so not in Switzerland,” she continued.  

Asked whether Switzerland had not over-ordered, Masserey replied that it was normal for a country to order a large number of doses “so as to limit the risks of not having enough vaccines for its population”. 

She also commended Switzerland for its efforts to support the WHO’s Covid-19 vaccine pool, COVAX, noting that it had donated hundreds of millions of francs and had decided to donate 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to COVAX out of the 5.3 million ordered. “These doses are at the manufacturers, while the necessary procedures are carried out,” she told RTS. “They will be delivered to COVAX rather than to Switzerland.” 

Thomas Cueni, president of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, also said at the weekend that rich countries like Switzerland should donate their surplus Covid-19 vaccines to poorer countries immediately. 

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