Coronavirus vaccine may be available in Singapore only at the end of next year: MOH

A research officer checks the quality of cells and virus that are used in the development of a vaccine. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - A Covid-19 vaccine may become available in sufficient doses only towards the end of next year, the Health Ministry director of medical services Kenneth Mak said.

He said Singapore is proactively working with vaccine developers, pharmaceutical companies and research institutions on research efforts into a Covid-19 vaccine.

Discussions have also begun to ensure Singapore will have access to vaccines when they become available, he told a virtual press conference on Friday (July 24).

But even though a number of companies have announced that they have started on phase three trials, which are a "relatively later stage" of the process of vaccine development, Associate Professor Mak said there may yet be failures in delivering a vaccine that is safe and effective.

"Practically speaking, we expect, realistically, a vaccine to be available perhaps next year rather than this year," he said.

"Given the global demand for these vaccines, it may not even be in the beginning of next year but perhaps towards the end of next year, when we might see vaccines produced in sufficient doses, and available then for procurement and to be delivered into Singapore."

He added that at this stage, it is still not known which of the vaccine candidates undergoing trials will ultimately be the one that is most likely to be brought into Singapore.

"We continue to work at making sure we have access to those vaccines," he said.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong noted that, besides working with overseas partners on research and development efforts, Singapore is participating in the Covax effort, an international collaboration to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines around the world.

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But he said he could not share more details on the ongoing discussions with vaccine developers, pharmaceutical companies and research institutions.

Mr Gan said: "Some of these transactions are strategic in nature, and there's also some business confidentiality involved."

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