Govt offering Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine to some of those allergic to mRNA jabs as part of study

The Sinovac vaccine is not part of Singapore's national vaccination regime.
The Sinovac vaccine is not part of Singapore's national vaccination regime.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Thousands of people here who have had allergic reactions to the Covid-19 vaccines used in Singapore's national inoculation programme will be offered Sinovac jabs by the Government, as part of a study to understand the immunity offered by different vaccines.

About 3,600 people who were allergic to the first dose of the mRNA vaccines have been contacted, and more than 1,400 have indicated interest in the programme, The Straits Times has learnt.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Thursday (July 1): "To better understand the immunity conferred by the use of different vaccines, we will work with the National Centre for Infectious Diseases to follow up with a sub-group of these persons who have received the mRNA vaccine, followed by the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine, under a research study on Covid-19 vaccine immune response."

MOH has been in touch with the people who have indicated interest in this programme to keep them updated with details on how they can receive the Sinovac vaccine, the spokesman added.

The Sinovac vaccine is not part of Singapore's national vaccination regime, which currently uses the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna vaccines. Both these vaccines use mRNA technology and have been authorised by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

Sinovac's jab remains unregistered and is not authorised by the HSA, and is to be provided here only under the Special Access Route framework. Vaccines under this framework are not covered under the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme, which supports people who suffer adverse effects from their Covid-19 jabs.

MOH said on Thursday that if people who have had allergic reactions to mRNA vaccines wish to receive the Sinovac vaccine, it has established a dedicated programme for them to be vaccinated at a public hospital clinic for closer monitoring of any side effects.

This programme will take into account their previous allergic reaction and a lack of data on the safety profile of receiving Sinovac following one dose of an mRNA vaccine, said MOH's spokesman.

The ministry also said that those who have received one dose of an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine but are unable to receive the second dose due to allergic reactions may choose to wait for the non-mRNA vaccines that MOH plans to bring in for use in the national vaccination programme.

Such vaccines will have to first be assessed for quality, safety and effectiveness under HSA's Pandemic Special Access Route.

On Wednesday, ST reported that people who have received the Sinovac vaccine will not be exempted from pre-event testing.

MOH said vaccines not included in Singapore's national vaccination programme may lack sufficient documentation of how effective they are at protecting people against Covid-19 infection and, in particular, against the Delta variant of the virus currently circulating. The Delta strain is a new mutation of the coronavirus that is more infectious.

The authorities gave approval last month to 24 private healthcare clinics to draw on the Government's existing stock of the Sinovac vaccine.

Over the past two weeks, many of these clinics have been inundated with calls and requests from residents wanting the Sinovac jab, as many rushed to register their interest in getting the China-made vaccine.

This is despite the authorities saying that the Sinovac vaccine is not entirely effective in preventing infection, based on evidence from other countries.