Swiss approve Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, haven't bought any

FILE PHOTO: A vial of the Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is seen at Northwell Health's South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, New York, U.S., March 3, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss drugs regulator Swissmedic approved Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, an agency spokesman said on Monday, the third shot to be approved by the country with vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech and from Moderna

Switzerland has so far not ordered J&J’s one-shot vaccine, which was previously approved by countries including the United States and Canada as well as the European Union. While deliveries have begun in the United States, Europe is not slated to get the vaccine until the second quarter.

In J&J’s 44,000-person global trial, the vaccine was found to be 66% effective at preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19 four weeks after inoculation. It was 100% effective in preventing hospitalisation and death due to the virus.

Nonetheless, Switzerland opted not to order the J&J vaccine amid its first round of shot purchases, on grounds that it would likely not get vaccine amid supply bottlenecks until later in 2021. It has ordered around 36 million doses of vaccines, from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, CureVac, Novavax and AstraZeneca, with the last three yet to win approval in Switzerland.

Through Monday, Switzerland had received 1.38 million doses of Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna vaccines, with 1.34 million shots administered, the Federal Ministry of Health said. About 433,000 people had been fully vaccinated with two shots.

Switzerland on Monday reported 3,643 new infections over the previous three days, with 12 newly confirmed deaths from the disease. Many of the new infections are from variants, including those that were originally documented in Britain and South Africa.

Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Michael Shields