More data needed to assess if changes to border measures can be made for vaccinated travellers: Janil Puthucheary

More data needed to assess if changes to border measures can be made for vaccinated travellers: Janil Puthucheary

Travellers at Changi Airport (4)
A traveller at Changi Airport in Singapore on Mar 15, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: While data on the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine has been "encouraging", more information is needed to assess if changes to border measures can be made for vaccinated individuals, said Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary on Monday (Apr 5).

Dr Puthucheary was responding to questions from Members of Parliament on a digital vaccine passport system and what that might mean for Singaporeans.

"Data on the duration of the vaccine’s protection and its effectiveness in preventing transmission has been encouraging thus far. More data is needed to assess if changes to border measures such as testing and stay-home notice requirements can be made for vaccinated individuals," he said in Parliament.

READ: Travellers flying to Singapore can use IATA travel pass from May

"More information is also needed to assess if such measures will be affected by the different types of vaccines. We are actively discussing with international counterparts on the possible mutual recognition of vaccination certificates."

At the same time, Dr Puthucheary noted that most countries have only just started COVID-19 vaccinations. As such, border measures will also have to take into consideration other factors such as the number of COVID-19 cases and infection control measures implemented in source countries, he said.

"Hence progress on cross-border recognition of vaccine certification may take some time. We will provide further updates when there is significant progress," Dr Puthucheary added.

Singapore rolled out its COVID-19 vaccination programme on Dec 30, with healthcare workers the first to receive the shots.

As of Apr 3, about 1.52 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered, he said. Of those, more than 468,000 have received their second dose and completed the full vaccination regimen.

READ: Government plans to begin inviting people below the age of 45 to book COVID-19 vaccination slots from June

Singapore will only approve COVID-19 vaccines that have met the "high safety, quality and efficacy standards" for use, said Dr Puthucheary. 

"The effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which are currently the only COVID-19 vaccines allowed for use in Singapore, are widely recognised internationally," he said.

Dr Puthucheary also said that the Ministry of Health will release information on how individuals can show their valid vaccination status at a later date.

"We will make it easy and convenient to prove one’s vaccination status, including for persons without smartphones," Dr Puthucheary said. 

"The measures required for the unvaccinated are generally based on public health considerations to prevent infection and so would not distinguish between those who chose not to be vaccinated and those who were not medically eligible."

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Source: CNA/mt

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