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UPDATE: Switzerland confirms both Chinese vaccines accepted for Covid certificate

The Swiss government has confirmed that the Chinese Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines are now accepted for the Covid certificate.

Empty vials of the Sinopharm Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine are kept on a table at a vaccination centre.
Empty vials of the Sinopharm Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine are kept on a table at a vaccination centre. Switzerland will now accept Chinese vaccines for entry and the Covid certificate. Photo: Nhac NGUYEN / AFP

The Swiss government has again updated its Covid certificate policy. 

Now, proof of vaccination with the jabs from China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines will now be accepted for the Covid certificate framework. 

This is the latest expansion of the types of vaccines which are accepted. 

Which vaccines have been accepted by Switzerland for the Covid certificate and how has this changed over time? 

Switzerland has employed a two-tier approval process for vaccines: those accepted for entry and those accepted for the Covid certificate. 

While a wide number of vaccines have been accepted for the Covid certificate, fewer have been accepted for the Covid certificate. 

See the following link for which vaccines are accepted for entry to Switzerland. 

UPDATE: Which vaccines are accepted for entry into Switzerland?

Initially, only vaccines approved by Swissmedic, the official domestic authority, were accepted for the Covid certificate. 

This meant that Moderna, Biontech/Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson were the only ones accepted. 

Note that up until late September, Johnson and Johnson was approved in Switzerland but was not administered domestically. 

From September 20th, Switzerland expanded the accepted vaccines to include those approved by the EMA, which included AstraZeneca. 

This made it much easier for people vaccinated in the United Kingdom, Israel, India and several other countries to get a Covid certificate, given the prevalence of AstraZeneca in these countries. 

In an update on September 30th – and with comparatively little fanfare compared to the AstraZeneca change – the Swiss government said it would also allow vaccines on the WHO Emergency Use list. 

At this time, that includes SARS-CoV-2 vaccine (Vero Cell) (Sinopharm/BIBP) and CoronaVac (Sinovac). 

To the frustration of Russian travellers or those vaccinated in Russia, the Swiss government also stated that “COVID certificates cannot currently be issued for vaccination with Sputnik V.”

Please click here for the official link. 

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Reader question: Which Swiss cantons will keep the Covid certificate in place?

Several Swiss cantons have expressed a desire to keep the Covid certificate in place. What does that mean for the relaxation of Covid measures?

Reader question: Which Swiss cantons will keep the Covid certificate in place?

On Wednesday February 16th, Switzerland announced an imminent relaxation of almost all Covid measures. 

The decision was made after a two-week consultation with Switzerland’s cantons to decide the way forward out of the pandemic. 

The government announced that almost all Covid measures are being relaxed from Thursday, February 17th.

Covid certificates – which show someone has been vaccinated, recovered or in some cases has tested negative – will no longer be required in restaurants, cinemas or at events.

Masks will no longer be required in shops, supermarkets and the workplace, while they will continue to be required in public transport for the meantime. 

More information about the relaxed measures can be found at the following link. 

UPDATE: Switzerland to scrap Covid certificate and most mask rules

What does this mean at a cantonal level? 

While the federal government no longer requires Covid certificates, they can however be required by the cantons, under the new framework.

Swiss media has previously reported that several cantons want to keep the certificate in place.

READ MORE: Swiss cantons divided on ending Covid measures

During the consultation period, several cantons expressed reservations about completely removing the certificate requirement. 

The small, centralised and predominantly German-speaking cantons of central Switzerland — Zug, Schwyz, Uri, Nidwalden, Obwalden and Glarus —  were in the greatest hurry to return to pre-Covid rules.

These cantons argued that a gradual lifting would be too complicated and difficult for the population to understand.

The southwestern canton of Valais preferred this approach as well, but only “as long as the number of cases and hospitalisations continue to decrease by mid-February”. Otherwise, the lifting of the measures should be done in stages.

However, Geneva, Basel-City, Neuchâtel and Jura said it was too early to lift remaining measures.

“It is too risky at the moment, given the still high load in hospitals”, according to Basel-City, which added that “the effects of the first relaxations, such as teleworking and quarantines, are also not yet known”.

Will some cantons still require a Covid certificate?

Berset clarified on Wednesday that while some cantons had argued for this as part of the consultation process (i.e. on a federal level), they would most likely not unilaterally keep the certificate rule in place from February 17th onwards. 

Berset however said he would need to clarify the matter with cantonal representatives and did not rule out some cantons deciding to keep the certificate in place in some instances – for example in relation to nightclubs or large events.

As at Wednesday afternoon, no cantons have indicated they will keep the certificate requirement in place.