Swiss could re-examine AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine contract - NZZ am Sonntag

ZURICH, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Switzerland could pass on the doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination it has ordered, with the country yet to approve the shot, newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported.

Switzerland earlier this month demanded more efficacy and quality data before greenlighting the shot that has already been approved by the European Union.

NZZ am Sonntag said there was speculation among local authorities that the government wanted to cancel its order, a situation which could occur if tests show the drug is insufficiently effective.

“It is still unclear what will happen with AstraZeneca,” Nora Kronig, vice director of the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) told the newspaper. “There are considerations to pass on the material.”

Switzerland, which has ordered 5.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, is waiting for results from trials in North and South America, after saying earlier testing did not produce clear data including on efficacy in older people.

France, Belgium and Germany are among European Union countries to recommend that Oxford’s vaccine be given only to under 65s. AstraZenica has said elderly trial participants have shown strong immune responses to the vaccine.

Withdrawal from the AstraZeneca sales contract is currently not an option, Kronig told NZZ am Sonntag. But this would be re-examined if need be, she added.

A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca told the newspaper that Switzerland would be able to receive supplies quickly after the vaccine was approved.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Kirsten Donovan