Switzerland has a huge stockpile of smallpox vaccines, but it’s unusable – rts.ch

In 2001, following the rise of the terrorist threat, Switzerland acquired more than 8 million doses of smallpox vaccine. But as it is an old generation vaccine with significant side effects, it is unthinkable to use it today and a new order will have to be placed.

The Federal Council is expected to announce on Wednesday the purchase of a vaccine to stem monkeypox. It is in fact a vaccine against traditional smallpox, of the third generation, a vaccine that Switzerland does not have in stock.

In secret army pharmacy stocks, Switzerland, on the other hand, has millions of doses of the first generation vaccine, enough to vaccinate the entire Swiss population. However, it is 50 years old and is unusable today.

Too many side effects

“Under no circumstances will we recommend this vaccine to protect against monkey pox. Its side effects are too great. There is a multiplication of the virus which gives lesions for about three weeks”, explained Tuesday in the 7:30 p.m. of the RTS Professor in charge of the Center for Emerging Viral Diseases at HUG Laurent Kaiser.

“These first-generation vaccines do not meet current manufacturing or safety standards,” says the OFSP.

This first generation of vaccines against smallpox was administered in Switzerland until 1972. Then, in 1980, the disease was officially eradicated from the surface of the planet.

But the attacks of September 11, 2001 redistribute the cards. Smallpox becomes a bioterrorist threat and countries re-equip themselves. As an archive of the Téléjournal announces that year, the Federal Council decides to buy millions of doses of vaccine against smallpox, for an amount of 10 million francs. A little over 20 years later, they are still sleeping in fridges.

Efficiency yet to be precisely defined

After the first came the second generation of smallpox vaccines, which Switzerland did not acquire. Today, it is the purchase of third-generation vaccines that is under negotiation.

“These are extremely attenuated vaccines. The virus will penetrate the human cell, but it will be unable to create new viruses. It’s a bit like with messenger RNA”, explains Laurent Kaiser.

If the indicators seem reassuring, the effectiveness of these third-generation vaccines against monkey pox, a different virus, although genetically close to human smallpox, remains to be precisely defined.

>> Also listen to Geneva cantonal doctor Aglaé Tardin talk about the arrival of the smallpox vaccine on the 7:30 p.m. set on Tuesday:

Aglaé Tardin talks about the monkeypox vaccine / 7:30 p.m. / 3 min. / yesterday at 7:30 p.m.

TV Subject: Theo Jeannet

Adaptation web: Vincent Cherpillod

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