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Expert committee to 'leverage scientific and clinical expertise' to assess COVID-19 vaccines: MOH

Expert committee to 'leverage scientific and clinical expertise' to assess COVID-19 vaccines: MOH

FILE PHOTO: Small bottles labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe are seen in this illustration taken taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday (Nov 12) provided more details on the expert committee that will assess the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as give advice on Singapore’s vaccine strategy.

The appointment of the committee, which comprises experts in infectious diseases, immunology and other relevant fields, came into effect on Oct 5.

The members have met regularly since they first convened on Oct 13 to “discuss the profiles of various vaccine candidates, as well as the conditions for their deployment in Singapore’s context”, said the ministry.

The committee was first announced to the public by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong at a press conference on Tuesday.

READ: Expert committee to assess efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines; authorities widen vaccine portfolio: Gan Kim Yong

“The expert committee will leverage scientific and clinical expertise to assess vaccine candidates, and recommend the appropriate vaccines for use against COVID-19 in Singapore when they become available,” the ministry said on Thursday.

It will also “consider the most up-to-date information and assessment of COVID-19 vaccines, including closely monitoring the global vaccine development landscape and stance of authoritative agencies such as the World Health Organization”.

Chaired by Associate Professor Benjamin Ong, who is senior advisor to the Director of Medical Services at MOH, the committee will assess the vaccines, make recommendations on the administration of the vaccines to specific segments of the population and give advice on the overall vaccination strategy for Singapore.

Ensuring the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines will be a “top priority” as more candidates are made available for clinical use, said A Prof Ong, who is also Senior Vice President of Health Education and Resources at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

“There are many factors to consider as not all vaccines would be suitable, safe and effective for all segments of our population,” he added. 

“The expert committee will need to closely study the safety and clinical data as they become available, while taking into account our local context, so that we can assess and recommend an appropriate and holistic vaccination strategy that can be put in place for the Singapore population."

The members of the committee are:


MOH also said that Singapore has been actively monitoring the progress in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine worldwide, and has taken steps to “secure access to a portfolio of vaccines for our population amidst expected strong global demand”.

“We are a strong supporter and active participant in driving the work of the global COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility,” it said.

“On top of our efforts through the COVAX Facility, we have further broadened and diversified our COVID-19 vaccine portfolio with a number of pharmaceutical companies which currently have vaccine candidates in development, so as to improve our chances of securing a suitable vaccine for Singapore.”

Among the candidates is a potential vaccine developed by American pharmaceutical company Pfizer, which is reportedly more than 90 per cent effective. 

Other vaccines are in development around the world, including in China and Russia.

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Source: CNA/ga(ta)


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