Parliament: Vulnerable people and those more likely to be exposed to Covid-19 will get vaccinated first

Singapore is working on ensuring it has timely access to an effective and safe vaccine when it becomes available, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Sept 4, 2020. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Vulnerable individuals and people more likely to be exposed to the infection, like healthcare workers, will be first in line to receive the Covid-19 vaccine when one is available.

The vaccine coverage will then be progressively expanded to the rest of the population, said Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong in a written reply to a parliamentary question on Friday (Sept 4).

"The vaccination strategy and schedule would depend on several factors, including the suitability of different vaccines for different population sub-groups and the quantity of vaccines available at any point in time."

Singapore will continue to adapt its vaccination strategy as more information on the various vaccines being developed become available, he added.

Mr Gan was replying to Mr Ang Wei Neng (West Coast GRC) and Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok), both of whom wanted to know more about Singapore's Covid-19 vaccine strategy.

Mr Gan said Singapore is working on ensuring it has timely access to an effective and safe vaccine when it becomes available, pointing to the country's participation in international initiatives, and local efforts to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

On the international front, the minister said Singapore has ongoing discussions with multiple pharmaceutical companies that are developing Covid-19 vaccines.

It is working closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO), Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and other countries to establish a multilateral collaboration called the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access (Covax) Facility.

Working with multinational and developing country vaccine manufacturers, the Covax Facility aims to deliver by the end of next year two billion doses of safe and effective vaccines that have passed regulatory approval and/or WHO pre-qualification.

Mr Gan said the joint effort will enable countries to pool risk and resources to gain access to a portfolio of vaccines from different vaccine developers.

"Ensuring equitable access to vaccines will help to better contain and eradicate the Covid-19 pandemic, not just in Singapore but also globally," he added.

The Government is also supporting local efforts to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

Scientists at Duke-NUS Medical School have teamed up with American biotechnology company Arcturus Therapeutics, and the vaccine they have co-developed has been undergoing early-stage human trials since early August.

The trials are administered by the SingHealth Investigational Medicine Unit, said Mr Gan.

This co-developed vaccine is one of 34 candidates worldwide that have reached human trials. Around 142 others are at the pre-human trial stage.

"Singapore is also building up vaccine manufacturing capacity, which can provide fill-and-finish contract manufacturing services to vaccine developers and ramp up production of vaccines when they are available," he added.

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