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Get vaccinated for COVID-19 when you can, instead of waiting for specific brand, says Lawrence Wong

Get vaccinated for COVID-19 when you can, instead of waiting for specific brand, says Lawrence Wong

Minister for Education and co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force Lawrence Wong receiving a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital on Jan 13. (Photo: Ministry of Communications and Information)

SINGAPORE: When the time comes, people should get themselves vaccinated with an approved vaccine, rather than hold out and wait for another brand, Minister for Education Lawrence Wong said on Wednesday (Jan 13).

"What we have today is an authorised vaccine that is safe, that is effective," Mr Wong said.

Singapore has made advanced purchases of three vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sinovac, with the latter two vaccines currently undergoing a "rigorous review process" by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said in Parliament earlier this month. 

The ministers, who co-chair the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, were speaking to invited media after receiving their first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital on Wednesday.

READ: More than 6,200 people vaccinated against COVID-19 as Government accelerates vaccination programme: Gan Kim Yong

Mr Gan said that Sinovac's vaccine has not yet been approved.

"We are still waiting for more data, and we will go through the data carefully when it comes, rather than depending on reported numbers. So, better to rely on official data received from Sinovac itself," he said.

On Tuesday, researchers revealed that the Sinovac vaccine, called CoronaVac, was 50.4 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic infections in a Brazilian trial, well below the rate announced last week.

READ: PM Lee Hsien Loong receives first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

READ: COVID-19 vaccine allowed for use only if HSA assesses it to be ‘sufficiently efficacious and safe’: Gan Kim Yong

Moderna has submitted data for its vaccine which is being reviewed by HSA, said Mr Wong. 

If authorised for use in Singapore, the Moderna and Sinovac vaccines would be used in Singapore's vaccination programme, he added.

Mr Wong noted similarities between the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, adding that they are both based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology and have similar efficacy rates.

"I would think between the two, it's quite straightforward; either one will do," he said.

Both vaccines have similar efficacy rates of about 95 per cent.

READ: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sinovac: A look at three key COVID-19 vaccines

READ: Go only to trusted sources for vaccine information, says head of COVID-19 vaccination committee

The Sinovac vaccine uses inactivated vaccine technology, which uses a weakened form of a live virus to stimulate bodies to produce an immune response. It is similar to the flu and chickenpox vaccines.

"We still need to look at the data, we still need to see if it's more efficacious, for example - for specific sub-segments," Mr Wong said. 

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Source: CNA/nh


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