Swiss voters on Sunday approved the government’s plan to bolster its system of preparedness for a pandemic.
Voters rejected a proposal in March 2015 by a small group of citizens to revise the draft flu pandemic protocol. The draft had to be rewritten by September 2014 after the government failed to get parliament to pass a similar protocol in 2010, as the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.
Flu pandemics can last for years and at the start can be lethal. Last year, the World Health Organization said the size of the world’s pandemic crisis is twice that of before the 1970s.
But Switzerland has some of the best influenza preparedness in the world, said Marta Perchik, an epidemiologist at the University of Geneva.
“Switzerland is definitely in a category of countries that are ready and competent to have a swine flu or a new pandemic,” Perchik said.
The change approved on Sunday will require epidemiologists, doctors and virologists to submit a document by March of 2015 outlining their preparations. That is a move to keep from becoming too complacent in case of a swine flu pandemic.
The department of economy said that it wouldn’t be prudent for Switzerland to have a high stockpile of antiviral drugs that the World Health Organization recommended. It also worries that stockpiling too many vaccines would not protect all of the population against an outbreak, resulting in the end of Switzerland as a free-trade zone.