Dose the Third

Recently, a number of countries and organisations have announced their support for the third COVID vaccine. This is currently only available for the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, while Johnson-Johnson is almost cleared in the United States. For individuals with weakened immune systems who are at high risk of developing long and/or severe COVID symptoms, the third shot will likely be crucial. 


The European Union’s drug regulators advised that healthy adults should receive the third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine six months (or 28 days for people with severely weakened immune systems) after their second dose, based on a study made by the European Medicines Agency on 18 to 55 year olds which proved the efficacy of the dose. This is especially recommended for at-risk individuals who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as immunity appears to wane comparatively quicker for it. Thus far, many countries within the EU such as France and Germany have restricted the third vaccine to the vulnerable. The German MEP Peter Liese has stated that Germany’s current goal is ensuring that the whole population has received the first vaccine – a third of which is unvaccinated. The WHO thinks similarly – its chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated that the booster shots should be a secondary goal until 40 percent of each country’s population is vaccinated, hopefully by the end of 2021.


So, what about Switzerland? Some weeks ago, both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna submitted their requests for third doses to be administered. At the moment, both vaccines are approved to be used on individuals above the age of 12 –  but this is only for the first two doses. Currently, Swissmedic is reviewing the submitted data regarding the safety and efficacy of the third dose of the vaccine, and the Federal Office of Public Health had stated back in June that booster shots likely won’t be administered before 2022. Currently, the number of vaccinations in Switzerland is on the rise due to the new restrictions regarding indoor public spaces for individuals without COVID certificates.


Overall, the third vaccine will likely not be administered in Switzerland before 2022, especially for people not at severe risk of COVID. Until people in disadvantaged countries also gain access to the first and second doses beforehand, there won’t be global administration of third doses. In the meantime, it is important to follow the Swiss guidelines of carrying a COVID certificate and abiding by mask rules.