Switzerland approves ‘universal pandemic plan’

Written by Staff Writer

Copyright by CNN Staff Writer

(CNN) — Switzerland has approved a new nationwide plan to respond to a pandemic, and the government says it aims to double to 90 its current stockpile of antiviral drugs within two years.

The plan was approved by 57% of voters in a referendum on Sunday, according to Swiss news reports.

Under the measure, the state is to take responsibility for distributing anti-viral drugs and the government would insure supplies. In addition, the government plans to raise the purchasing price of such drugs to match the cost of international markets, in order to “better guarantee competitiveness.”

Voters passed the initiative against the backdrop of what was widely thought to be a likely flu pandemic in the coming months.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization issued an alert over a lack of H7N9 bird flu infections in humans since March, calling the virus still “persistent in the environment.”

Swiss Health Minister Alain Berset told the Swiss News Agency that a pandemic “would be a big challenge for Switzerland.”

“We don’t want to have no medicine for the population for more than two years,” Berset told the agency.

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