Monday, July 26, 2021

international

Over 17,000 in Singapore received Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine; 2 non-serious adverse events reported


SINGAPORE - As at last Saturday (July 3), 17,296 people here have received one dose of Sinovacs Covid-19 vaccine, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Monday.

In a written response to several parliamentary questions on the vaccine by Mr Yip Hon Weng (Yio Chu Kang), Mr Ong added that as of June 29, two non-serious adverse events relating to the Sinovac vaccine had been reported.

He did not elaborate on what the events were, but said that the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) would continue to monitor the situation and provide updates if any significant safety concerns are detected.

The first batch of Sinovac vaccines arrived in Singapore on Feb 23, but the vaccine has yet to be approved for use in the national vaccination programme.

This is because the drugmaker has still not submitted certain data which the HSA needs to complete its evaluation of the vaccine's safety and efficacy.

Mr Ong confirmed this was still the case on Monday, in response to opposition MP Gerald Giam (Aljunied) who asked whether the vaccine could be made part of the national vaccination programme for those who have contraindications to the vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Contraindications are reasons that an individual should not continue with a particular medicine or treatment, as it may be harmful to them.

In the case of Singapore's Covid-19 vaccines, this includes those who had allergic reactions to the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or those who are allergic to other vaccines and have been assessed by an expert to be unsuitable for the two vaccines.

Making Sinovac's vaccine part of the national vaccination programme would allow such individuals to get their jabs at vaccination centres and polyclinics, and to be eligible for the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme (Vifap) should they develop any adverse reactions, noted Mr Giam.

Currently, those who wish to take Sinovac's vaccine may do so only at certain private healthcare providers across the island, and are not eligible for Vifap.

Mr Giam also asked if people who have contraindications to Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna's vaccines but not Sinovac's could be given priority to receive Sinovac's vaccine, ahead of those who simply choose Sinovac's vaccine out of personal preference.

In his written response, Mr Ong said that as Sinovac's vaccine is still not authorised by HSA under the Pandemic Special Access Route and has not been recommended as part of the national vaccination programme by the expert committee on Covid-19 vaccination, those who wish to take the jab will not be eligible for Vifap.

Noting that "only a small group" here are contraindicated to Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna's vaccines, Mr Ong added that sufficient stock of Sinovac's vaccine had been set aside for their priority use.

Published : July 06, 2021

By : Timothy Goh/The Straits Times/ANN