SINGAPORE - Moderna's Spikevax bivalent Covid-19 vaccine is expected to arrive in Singapore at the end of this month, after the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) approved it for use here.
The authorities will announce details of the shipment when arrangements have been finalised, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on his social media platforms on Thursday.
The bivalent vaccine, which targets both the original Sars-CoV-2 strain and the Omicron BA.1 variant, was granted interim authorisation for use as a booster for people aged 18 and above who have already received their primary series vaccination.
"We expect the shipment to arrive end of September. By then, we will finalise the arrangements and we will announce (them) to the public," he said.
On Wednesday, HSA said the official recommendation for this booster vaccine will be issued by the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination and the Ministry of Health in due time.
It added that it had consulted its medicines advisory committee and panel of infectious diseases experts before making its decision.
In a video, Mr Ong said HSA is evaluating the bivalent vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech, which has been approved in some countries such as Britain as a single-dose booster for individuals aged 12 and above.
He also addressed some questions he has received on how a bivalent vaccine works, its effectiveness and safety.
On whether the vaccine is effective, Mr Ong said: "Data from clinical trials showed that it elicits a strong protection effect against both variants and in particular against Omicron."
On whether the vaccine is safe, he said the risk of severe, adverse reactions is the same as the previous formulation.
Vaccines that work against different strains of viruses are not new, said Mr Ong.
For example, influenza vaccines are quadrivalent vaccines that work against four types of influenza virus strains, he added.
The safety of the new bivalent vaccine is comparable with that of Moderna's original Covid-19 vaccine, with mostly mild-to-moderate side effects such as pain at the injection site, as well as fatigue and muscle pain.
As part of the body's natural response to build immunity against Covid-19, these reactions are expected and usually resolve on their own within a few days.
HSA will continue to actively monitor the safety of the vaccine and require Moderna to submit data from its ongoing clinical study to ensure that the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks.