First shipment of Novavax Covid-19 vaccine arrives in Singapore

Novavax's Nuvaxovid is a protein-based, or protein-subunit, vaccine. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - The first batch of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by American biotechnology company Novavax arrived in Singapore on Wednesday (May 4), and will be offered at 21 locations here by the end of the month.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Wednesday night that the Nuvaxovid vaccine will be offered at its first joint testing and vaccination centre at the former Bishan Park Secondary School, as well as 20 Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) at the end of May.

Nuvaxovid is a protein-based, or protein-subunit, vaccine.

Vaccines based on mRNA technology, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna jabs, use material from the virus to teach the body’s cells to make copies of a protein unique to the virus, and in this manner build up resistance to it.

On the other hand, protein-based vaccines include pieces of the virus. When a person is vaccinated with them, their body realises that the protein should not be there and creates antibodies to fight it.

The results of some clinical studies showed that Nuvaxovid demonstrated a vaccine efficacy of about 90 per cent against symptomatic Covid-19. Meanwhile, Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna jabs showed a vaccine efficacy of about 95 per cent. 

The joint testing and vaccination centres, slated to begin operations at the end of the month, will be a new class of facilities that offer both Covid-19 testing and vaccination services in one location.

"The (centres) will allow us to consolidate our resources, while ensuring testing and vaccination services remain accessible to the public," said MOH.

The ministry added that it is working with selected PHPCs to offer the Nuvaxovid vaccine, and will announce further details in the coming weeks.

The joint testing and vaccination centres were announced last month, when MOH said it will consolidate its resources into several such centres. 

This comes as more Covid-19 vaccination centres will cease operations over the coming months, with the steady decrease in the number of Covid-19 doses administered in recent weeks.

On Feb 14, the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 accepted the recommendation of the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination (EC19V) to include the Nuvaxovid vaccine in the National Vaccination Programme for use in individuals aged 18 years and above, for both the Covid-19 primary series and booster vaccination.

The expert committee recommended the Nuvaxovid vaccine as an acceptable alternative to the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines in individuals aged 18 and above

The mRNA vaccines such as those offered by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech still remain the preferred vaccines due to their higher efficacy and stronger immune response generated.

MOH said the EC19V reviewed the data on the vaccine's safety, efficacy and tolerability.

"Boosters and vaccinations remain a critical part of our Covid-19 strategy in ensuring our population is well protected against infection and severe illness," said MOH.

"We urge all who are eligible for vaccinations and booster doses to receive them as soon as possible."

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