Swiss give green light to Moderna as 2nd COVID vaccine

This file picture taken on November 18, 2020 shows a syringe and a bottle reading "Vaccine Covid-19" next to the Moderna biotech company logo. (Photo: AFP)

Switzerland gave the green light Tuesday to the Moderna vaccine against the new coronavirus -- the second jab it has authorised for use, joining the vaccine produced by Pfizer-BioNTech.

The Swissmedic regulatory authority said the vaccine from US firm Moderna had shown a "high efficacy rate", and could be deployed immediately.

The neighbouring European Union gave its approval to the Moderna vaccine last Wednesday, with Britain doing likewise on Friday.

"Following a thorough review of all the submitted data on safety, efficacy and quality, Swissmedic has today temporarily authorised the Moderna vaccine," it said in a statement.

"This means that a second Covid-19 vaccine has satisfied the strict requirements for safety, efficacy and quality and can be used with immediate effect in Switzerland.

"The authorisation studies have demonstrated a high efficacy rate of 94 percent 14 days after the second injection of the vaccine," it added.

Some countries are delaying the second injection of vaccines that require two doses, in order to maximise the number of people given some degree of protection through a first injection.

But Swissmedic said it recommended sticking to the 14-day interval for the Moderna vaccine rather than deferring the second dose.

It also added that, in its view, different vaccines should not be combined, as there was no information on the interchangeability of Covid-19 jabs.

Switzerland was the first country in continental Europe to start using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in its mass immunisation programme against the coronavirus pandemic, doing so on December 23.

"The rapid, but at the same time conscientious, review in the rolling procedure has proved very successful," said Swissmedic executive director Raimund Bruhin.

"This is another important step forward in enabling a large proportion of the population in Switzerland to be vaccinated quickly against Covid-19."