Dossiers - Corona pandemic
Overview and position on the coronavirus pandemic
Our industries can report another success in fighting the pandemic: the second coronavirus vaccine has been approved by Swissmedic. Other vaccines are also being tested.
A crisis can often only be successfully overcome with the help of innovative technologies and their products. As challenging as these situations may be, they also increase the pressure to innovate on society and its companies. The international cooperation between our industries and research institutes in the fight against the coronavirus is unique in the history of vaccine development. In order to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, our industries immediately intensified their research activities so as to be able to offer the world’s population the fastest and safest possible solutions in the fight against the pandemic.
Science, too, needs an innovation-friendly environment in order to thrive and demonstrate success. Switzerland continues to offer good framework conditions for research as well as for the development and production of new solutions to existing problems – be this with regard to the coronavirus or numerous other challenges.
Now more than ever, the world’s greatest hope in the fight against the coronavirus lies in vaccines. Several of our members have many years of experience in the field of vaccines and are actively researching vaccines here in Switzerland. Swiss technologies that have been tested as part of the Ebola vaccine development process are also being deployed.
Success thanks to science and technology
The international industry has lived up to the expectations of politics and society. For example, Swissmedic has now approved two vaccines and other applications are being considered. In addition to the efficacy and quality of a vaccine, safety and possible side effects play a key role.
Lonza produces very large quantities of vaccine doses at its site in Visp. Novartis also bottles injection vials with a vaccine (mRNA as active ingredient) at its production facility in Stein. Roche received marketing approval in Switzerland for a drug that has shown promising results in the treatment of COVID-19 patients and has already delivered 3,000 doses. In this way, our members make a significant contribution to overcoming the global challenge.
Further information on the authorisation of the vaccine can be found on the websites of the Federal Office of Public Health and Swissmedic. scienceindustries does not approve of the suspension of patent protection (this article is only available in German) as it puts future innovations at risk and would lead to bottlenecks in the supply chain.
Bottlenecks in the production of vaccines, therapeutics, medical devices and diagnostics
scienceindustries welcomes and supports the discussion in WTO on trade-related bottlenecks (Bottleneck Report) and trade facilitation measures in the fight against the Covid 19 pandemic. In order to prevent bottlenecks in the production of vaccines, therapeutics, medical devices and diagnostics, the main priority is to strengthen existing production capacities through timely and appropriate measures (including facilitating the flow of goods), to dispense with export restrictions, to harmonize different procedures and regulations as well as technical requirements, and to reduce tariffs. The most comprehensive agreement possible, which is being sought with the Healthcare Products Initiative, is supported.
Vaccination strategy: vaccination of company employees
For some time now, various companies have set up designated working groups and task forces that give top priority to protecting employees and their families against illness. In addition to consistently implemented hygiene and protective measures and regular testing, some of our member companies aim to offer their employees COVID-19 vaccination (similar to the flu vaccination). However, according to the framework conditions known to us, the Swiss Confederation’s vaccine strategy only includes employees who are resident in the canton where the company is based. In many cases, this would only cover about half to two thirds of the respective workforce. This rigid, domicile-related restriction on vaccinations creates a “two-class society” within a company.
scienceindustries is therefore liaising with the Federal Office of Public Health to ensure that all persons wishing to receive the vaccination can be promptly vaccinated, regardless of their place of residence. The cantons are now increasingly refraining from prioritising the people to be vaccinated. This also eases the situation for many of our member companies.
Amendment of the COVID-19 Act provides legal certainty
The COVID-19 Act serves as the basis for joint and solidarity-based solutions. It introduces urgently needed measures to ensure that the economic consequences of the pandemic are as manageable as possible for those affected. Both the economy and the general public can therefore continue to rely on the assistance provided for in the law.
The amendment is aimed in particular at adapting the articles on hardship cases to sport and unemployment insurance. In addition, the Fixed Penalties Act is to be amended to simplify enforcement in the cantons. Support can be provided for an expanded hardship programme and an extension of short-time working benefits.
This will remove potential uncertainties and counter bankruptcies and mass layoffs in the event of a further wave of the pandemic. The business world needs legal certainty during the crisis.