No major disruptions to S'pore's Covid-19 vaccine supply so far amid EU export curbs: Gan Kim Yong

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong warned that logistics and shipments could be still hampered even without EU intervention. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore has not seen significant disruptions to vaccine supply in light of European Union (EU) moves to extend export curbs but concerns remain, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Wednesday (March 24).

"We are concerned about the supplies, the continuity of supplies, and that is why we are encouraging Singaporeans to get vaccinated as soon as possible," Mr Gan added.

His comments at a virtual multi-ministry task force briefing came on the back of the European Commission announcing that it will extend EU powers to potentially block Covid-19 vaccine exports to Britain and other areas with much higher vaccination rates.

The moves are designed to avoid even limited shortfalls in deliveries to the EU, whose inoculation programme has been beset by delays and supply issues.

The EU used an existing export control mechanism, set up at the end of January, to block a shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia earlier this month.

Singapore did experience a short-term disruption when Pfizer shut down its plant for upgrading, impacting the supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The plant has restarted and supplies have resumed, Mr Gan said.

But he warned that logistics and shipments could be still hampered even without EU intervention.

"If supplies are disrupted, we may need to also suspend our vaccination programme until new supplies arrive," he said.

"So I would like to seek Singaporeans' understanding that we are actually running a very tight supply situation and we want to do it as soon as possible, as fast as possible.

"But that means that from time to time, we may need to disrupt our vaccination programme while waiting for new supplies."

Once supplies do arrive, they are deployed as fast as possible, he added.

"As soon as (the vaccines) arrive, once they clear the quality assessment, we put them almost straight to the vaccination centres. So we keep very little stock because we do want to roll them out as soon as possible so that we can vaccinate Singaporeans."

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