SINGAPORE - The Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine is still being evaluated for use here, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong told Parliament on Tuesday (May 11).
He was responding to a question from Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Bukit Panjang) who had asked about the progress of the Health Sciences Authority's (HSA) evaluation of the vaccine, as well as whether the advance purchase agreement for Sinovac is still valid.
Singapore received its first shipment of the Sinovac vaccine on Feb 23, before it was authorised for use here.
On March 24, Mr Gan said that HSA had asked Sinovac for more detailed data so it could make an "adequate, full assessment" of its vaccine.
On April 16, it was announced that a Chilean study had found Sinovac's vaccine to be 67 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic infection.
The World Health Organisation is also expected to deliver its evaluation of Sinovac's vaccine in the coming days.
Responding to Mr Liang's question on Tuesday, Mr Gan said that as part of efforts to secure a diversified vaccine portfolio, Singapore had entered into advance purchase agreements with several pharmaceutical companies such as Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinovac last year, even before the clinical trials of the vaccines were completed.
This was done in order to increase the chances of securing a suitable vaccine that is safe and effective for use here, said Mr Gan.
"This was how we managed to start our vaccination drive with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines early," he noted.
Likewise, Singapore took delivery of the Sinovac vaccines based on the schedules that had been planned for and committed under the advance purchase agreement with Sinovac.
But Sinovac and "a few other vaccines" are still being carefully evaluated by HSA, and the public will be updated when progress has been made, said Mr Gan.
Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) later asked what would happen if Sinovac were not approved by HSA, and if there were arrangements with Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech that would allow the supply of their vaccines to be increased.
Mr Gan said Singapore had entered into advance purchase agreements with several other vaccine companies, but he added that he could not share more details due to confidentiality clauses.
"But as and when these contracts materialise, as and when we are able to supply and to deploy these vaccines, we will share more details with fellow Singaporeans," he said.