Singapore

Singapore approves Moderna vaccine, first shipment to arrive in March

Singapore is first Asian country to approve Moderna's vaccine; HSA review shows it is 94% effective

Singapore has approved US pharmaceutical company Moderna's coronavirus vaccine for local use, with the first shipment expected to arrive around next month if all goes according to plan.

The vaccine will be progressively rolled out for individuals aged 18 and older, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday.

Singapore is the first Asian country to approve Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine, the second one to be given the green light here after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved last December.

More vaccines from both companies will continue to arrive over the course of the year, MOH said.

In a separate statement, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said its review of the clinical data has shown that the Moderna vaccine is 94 per cent effective, with the benefits outweighing the risks.

In other words, the vaccine led to a 94 per cent reduction of symptomatic Covid-19 infections in vaccinated individuals, compared with a similarly sized group of unvaccinated people.

This data was based on a clinical trial of 30,000 people conducted in the US.

Trial participants ranged in age from 18 to 95 years.

The Moderna vaccine requires two doses administered 28 days apart, while the Pfizer vaccine's two doses are taken 21 days apart.

The Moderna vaccine can be stored at a regular freezer temperature of minus 20 deg C, whereas the Pfizer vaccine must be stored at minus 70 deg C.

Both vaccines "teach" the cells in the body to make a protein that triggers an immune response to produce antibodies to fight the virus. Reported side effects from both vaccines are similar and include pain, swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle ache, fever, chills, vomiting and joint pain after vaccination.

These reactions are generally associated with vaccinations, and typically resolve on their own after a few days, HSA said.

The vaccine has received interim authorisation under the Pandemic Special Access Route, which means Moderna has to monitor the longer-term efficacy of the vaccine in order to determine how long it protects against Covid-19.

It must also follow up on the safety of the vaccine for a longer period of time.

Singapore's expert committee on Covid-19 vaccination said yesterday that it is satisfied with the Moderna vaccine's safety and efficacy.

However, the committee cautioned that pregnant women and severely immuno-compromised people, as well as those under 18, should not take the vaccine yet.

coronavirus