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Covid: Delta variant does not worry Swiss vaccination commission

Switzerland is well prepared to take on the Delta variant, said Christoph Berger, head of Switzerland’s federal vaccination commission. Based on what we currently know, there is no need to be concerned, he said, reported RTS.

© Rodrigo Fernández |

While it’s true that the variant is more contagious, nearly 90% of those vaccinated with two doses of mRNA vaccine are protected against this variant, Berger told the NZZ am Sonntag on 20 June 2021.

Switzerland has only used the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines. The UK has used the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. The AstraZeneca vaccine, accounts for around 60% of total UK vaccinations.

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines used in Switzerland have been found to be much more effective against the new variant than other vaccines like the AstraZeneca shot used widely in the UK, explained Berger.

According to Berger, the Delta variant, which first emerged in India, has led to a rise in cases in the UK. The UK authorities gave one dose of vaccine to as many people as possible. That was probably good at the time, but now two doses are needed, he said.

Based on research by Public Health England the efficacy of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines seems to be similar against the Delta variant after one dose (33%) and higher for the Pfizer vaccine after two doses. After the second dose the Pfizer vaccine was found to be 88% effective compared to 60% for the AstraZeneca vaccine. The study did not cover the Moderna vaccine.

In Switzerland, around 29% of the population has received two doses of vaccine. In the UK 46% of the population has been vaccinated twice. So while Switzerland has exclusively used mRNA vaccines, a smaller percentage of the population has received two doses. The UK’s higher double-dose vaccination rate probably puts it well ahead of Switzerland on protection against the Delta variant, even after accounting for the lower efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Virginie Masserey, head of infectious disease control at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), said she thinks it won’t be possible to stop the rise of the Delta variant in Switzerland. According to her we need to slow its spread to increase the vaccination window, reported RTS.

Masserey said that the current variants are around 50% more contagious, which makes them probably a bit more difficult to control, and they result in more serious infections a bit more often. The true measure of concern is the rate of hospitalisation and intensive care admission. Currently, the situation is calm on this front, she said.

In the UK, over the month to mid June 2021 new daily confirmed cases rose from around 2,000 to 10,000. Over the same period, the daily number of hospitalisations rose from 102 to 202 (rolling 7-day average). The last time new daily cases rose from around 2,000 to 10,000 in the UK was during the month to 5 October 2020. During that period daily UK hospital admissions rose from 125 to 466 (rolling 7-day average), a significantly steeper rise than the recent increase.

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Le News
The newspaper Le News is a free, quality, local English language newspaper launched on 31 October 2013. Le News fills a gap in local Swiss media for the numerous English-speakers living and visiting Switzerland. In late January 2015 we decided to put our print medium on hold and focus on our digital media presence.
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