72,000 people in S'pore with at least one Sinovac dose, more non-mRNA Covid-19 vaccines by year end

If the supply of 200,000 Sinovac doses which the Government has procured is insufficient to cater to the demand, private clinics can bring in additional supply. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - About 72,000 people here have received at least one dose of the Sinovac vaccine, and about 17,000 have received their second doses, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung in Parliament on Monday (July 26).

Of these, 28 per cent are Singaporeans who are mostly young, said the minister. He added that of those who have taken the Sinovac vaccine and are over 60, less than 10 per cent are Singaporeans.

Mr Ong, who was giving an update on the Government's response to Covid-19, noted that if the supply of 200,000 doses which the Government has procured is insufficient to cater to the demand, private clinics can bring in additional supply.

This, he added, is Singapore's approach to any other vaccine classified under the World Health Organisation's emergency use listing, under the country's special access route for vaccines.

Mr Ong also revealed that as at July 9, the Government has received 10 adverse event reports following vaccination with the Sinovac vaccine. These comprise mainly allergic reactions, such as itch and rashes.

The Sinovac vaccine, which is not included in Singapore's national vaccination programme, has shown variable protection across multiple studies carried out internationally, with the most complete analysis showing an efficacy of 51 per cent.

In contrast, the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty Covid-19 vaccines, which are both part of Singapore's national vaccination programme, have shown an efficacy rate of around 90 per cent. Both are mRNA vaccines.

Beyond these vaccines, Singapore is continually reviewing its portfolio of Covid-19 jabs and could be bringing in new ones soon, said Mr Ong.

"We plan to bring in non-mRNA vaccines that are robustly assessed for quality, safety and effectiveness. This should happen before the end of the year, subject to supply and regulatory approval," said the minister.

Touching on concessions on safe management measures for Sinovac vaccines, Mr Ong said that the data on the efficacy of Sinovac vaccine against the Delta variant, a more contagious strand of Covid-19, is still building up.

Sinovac has recently submitted additional data requested by the Health Sciences Authority and the Government is currently studying it, said Mr Ong.

"The Health Sciences Authority and our Expert Committee are going through the various data. When the evidence justifies it, we will certainly want to extend the concessions to individuals who have received the Sinovac or other vaccines which may qualify," he said.

Mr Ong also gave an update of reports of heart conditions associated with the vaccines. As at June 30, the Government has received 12 reports of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, or inflammation of the lining outside the heart, in people after receiving a dose of an mRNA-based Covid-19 jab.

One of the cases is a full-time national serviceman in the Singapore Armed Forces who is below 30 years old.

Current data suggests that there is a very small risk of myocarditis and pericarditis after receiving a second dose of mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, particularly in males under 30 years old.

But the authorities and experts have both said that such cases are extremely rare and it remains unclear if the vaccines are responsible for them.

As a precaution, experts have advised that vaccinated people, especially adolescents and younger men, should avoid strenuous physical activity for one week after receiving either of their mRNA vaccine doses.

"While there is a small increased risk among those in the younger age groups relative to the baseline rate, the local incidence rate remains low," he said.

Progress Singapore Party Non-Constituency MP Hazel Poa asked if more help can be given to seniors to book appointments for the Sinovac jab, as according to her, some are unable to get an appointment for the vaccine.

Mr Ong said that this should not be the case, given how there are more than 20 clinics which are able to administer the Sinovac jab.

"It should not be the case, but if you can give me the contact, we are more than happy to help them facilitate and make an appointment," he said.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.