First shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Singapore by end-Dec; enough vaccines for all by Q3 2021

Singapore is one of the first countries to obtain this vaccine.
Singapore is one of the first countries to obtain this vaccine.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Singapore, with the first shipment of the vaccine expected to arrive here by the end of this month.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong revealed this in his address to the nation on Monday (Dec 14), saying: "I am very happy to tell you that after studying the scientific evidence and clinical trial data, the Health Sciences Authority has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for pandemic use."

This makes Singapore one of the first countries to obtain this vaccine, he added.

Mr Lee said other vaccines are expected to arrive in Singapore in the coming months.

"If all goes according to plan, we will have enough vaccines for everyone in Singapore by the third quarter of 2021," he said.

Britain was the first country to approve the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Dec 2, with the United States following suit on Dec 11.

The approvals come after US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech released in November the final results from the late-stage trial of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The findings showed that their vaccine was 95 per cent effective at preventing a person from getting infected with the coronavirus.

The Straits Times had earlier reported that American biotechnology company Moderna, which is developing another Covid-19 vaccine that is a front runner, is also seeking HSA approval to roll out its vaccines here. HSA said it has started evaluating the available data.

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines leverage a new technology called messenger RNA.

Traditional vaccines, such as inactivated virus vaccines and live attenuated vaccines, work by injecting whole but inactive viruses into patients to stimulate an immune reaction. This is what is done for polio (inactivated polio vaccine) and chickenpox (a live, but weakened, virus vaccine).

But RNA vaccines involve injecting snippets of the viral genetic code so a patient's body mounts a protective response without being actually exposed to the whole virus.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the first RNA vaccine on the market.

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