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Why Swiss officials are fearing a ‘revolution of the vaccinated’

According to an internal report, the Swiss government is fearful of protests among the vaccinated. Here’s why.

Why Swiss officials are fearing a ‘revolution of the vaccinated’
Should vaccinated people be upset if they need to lockdown again due to anti-vaxxers? Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Protests have been common since the early days of the pandemic. 

Whether these have been against the measures, against the vaccine for the virus or even denying the existence of the virus themselves, these protests have largely been populated by conspiracy theorists and far-right groups. 

However, according to a new internal government report, Switzerland is fearing an uprising of those who have already been vaccinated. 

Why are Swiss authorities fearing a “revolution of the vaccinated”? 

So why would people who acknowledge the existence of the virus and understand its dangers enough to get vaccinated start to protest? 

READ MORE: How to register for the coronavirus vaccine in your Swiss canton

According to the leaked report, the reason is simple: vaccinated people may become increasingly upset when they are required to adopt harsher lockdown measures primarily because large sections of the population continue to refuse to be vaccinated. 

Officials are concerned about a rise in infections, hospitalisations and even deaths in autumn when the weather turns colder and people return from summer vacations. 

The “new wave” of the virus is likely to be exacerbated by the fact that fewer people have been vaccinated than Switzerland expected, while the Delta variant is spreading much faster than had been expected. 

Due to this it will be “very difficult to prevent a renewed increase in hospital occupancy due to Covid-19 in the hospitals in autumn”. 

As a consequence, Switzerland is mulling additional restrictions in order to curb the rising case rates, including strict lockdowns. 

This is expected to cause concern among those who have already been vaccinated, primarily because only those who have decided not to get vaccinated are likely to be hit hard by another wave of the virus. 

The leaked document predicts “further protests” if lockdowns are reintroduced, “probably also among the vaccinated part of the population”, which Swiss media is calling “a revolution of the vaccinated”. 

With just under 50 percent of people fully vaccinated in Switzerland – and a further six percent having received their first shot – almost half of the Swiss population remains unvaccinated, amounting to a total of around three million people. 

Evidence from Europe and elsewhere shows that while those who have been vaccinated can contract the virus again, they are hit by comparatively milder symptoms. 

They can however carry and transmit the virus in some cases, which would place those who have not been vaccinated – particularly those who cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons – at a greater risk if lockdown measures are not reintroduced. 

As reported by The Local Switzerland in early August, prominent Swiss epidemiologists are calling for measures to be further relaxed, including the mask mandate for shops, supermarkets and museums. 

READ MORE: Will Switzerland relax the mask mandate in supermarkets, shops and museums?

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset however said that he was reluctant to endorse such a policy change, particularly with case numbers currently on the rise. 

What measures could be introduced in autumn?  

At a press conference on Tuesday, August 3rd, Swiss authorities said they were considering which measures could be reintroduced should case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths rise again in August. 

The goal of reintroduced measures would be to ensure the health care system is not overloaded, said Lukas Engelberger, the president of the cantonal health directors. 

“When it gets cooler outside, we will see whether we are well positioned,” Engelberger said. 

However, the government was reluctant to indicate which measures could be tightened, however the government indicated it would consider putting in place different rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated people when everyone had the chance to get the vaccine. 

This might include requiring vaccinations for certain activities, rather than also allowing for negative tests and proof of recovery from the virus as is currently allowed in Switzerland. 

“It can become a topic that only those who have recovered and who have been vaccinated have access to major events. Otherwise testing becomes the new vaccination, and that’s not good,” said National Councilor Lorenz Hess. 

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COVID-19 VACCINES

Switzerland to start dual-strain Covid boosters in October

The long-awaited second booster shots will be rolled in Switzerland from October 10th, the Health Ministry announced on Friday.

Switzerland to start dual-strain Covid boosters in October

Less than two weeks after drug regulator Swissmedic approved the new version of the Moderna vaccine, which should better target certain sub-variants of Omicron, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) said on Friday the shots will be available to some groups of the population from October 10th.

“The vaccination recommendation for autumn 2022 aims primarily to protect vulnerable people against a severe form of the disease. On the one hand, people aged 65 or over, and on the other hand, those aged 16 to 64 with an increased risk, for example due to a pre-existing disease or pregnancy”; FOPH said in a statement on Friday.

After that, those “aged 16 to 64, without risk factors and who work in acute and long-term care, or who care for vulnerable people in a professional or private capacity” will be eligible for the shots, FOPH said.Health officials noted that while the number of Covid infection is currently “relatively low, an increase in transmissions of the virus is expected from the fall of 2022. The risk of contracting Covid-19 and the burden for the health system could therefore increase again”.

It added, however, that “the situation differs markedly from that of the last two winters; currently, 97 percent of the population have antibodies against Covid following vaccination or recovery. “People without risk factors are unlikely to develop severe symptoms this fall”.

Dual-strain vaccine

In recent trials, the new Moderna vaccine demonstrated “higher antibody concentrations against the Omicron variants” than the manufacturer’s original Covid vaccine, Swissmedic said.

The previous vaccine was effective against early strains, like Alpha and Delta, offering no immunity against Omicron or its sub-variants, which are currently responsible for all the coronavirus infections detected in Switzerland.

“Compared to the original vaccine, trials have shown that this [vaccine] produces a stronger immune response against the Omicron variants BA.1 and BA.4/5″, Swissmedic said, adding that the new vaccine remains as effective as its predecessor against the original Covid viruses.

Additionally, “a careful review of the application documents submitted on an ongoing basis showed that the vaccine meets the safety, efficacy and quality requirements », the agency noted.

Also, in terms of secondary effects, they are expected to be “similar” to those following administration of the second dose and the first the booster of the original vaccine: fever, muscle pains, and headaches.

According to FOPH, “the bivalent mRNA vaccines, which are tailored to the Omicron BA.1 variant, should be preferred for booster vaccination. However, it is still possible to use the current monovalent mRNA vaccine”.

Additionally, protein-based Nuvaxovid doses will also be available.

READ MORE: BREAKING: Switzerland approves new Covid-19 boosters
 
 

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