Singapore working to secure 'portfolio' of vaccines: Gan
Minister says this will cater to different segments of population
Singapore will work on securing a "portfolio" of Covid-19 vaccines to cater to different segments of the population instead of relying on one vaccine, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said yesterday.
He said negotiations with American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and various others that are conducting clinical trials on vaccines are ongoing.
Given the expected global demand, diversifying Singapore's vaccine portfolio will improve its chances of securing a suitable vaccine, he said at a virtual press conference by the Multi-Ministry task force on Covid-19.
Details on which vaccines will make the list and which segments of the population will receive a vaccine are still being worked out, he added.
Mr Gan noted that the Government will have to take into account varying efficacy and safety profiles for different groups when deciding how to vaccinate the population.
For example, some vaccines may not be effective for children and others may not be effective for seniors.
Mr Gan further said that even when vaccines become available, they will have to be given out progressively as it is not possible to vaccinate the entire nation at once.
Depending on the nature of the vaccine, Singapore may not intend to vaccinate all its citizens, he added.
Healthcare workers fighting the virus on the front lines will likely get first priority, followed by vulnerable groups like seniors who may develop more severe symptoms as a result of infection.
The Health Ministry's director of medical services Kenneth Mak noted that one vaccine candidate developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech was recently found to be more than 90 per cent effective against Covid-19.
While this is welcome news, Associate Professor Mak said more information about it, and others that are close to finishing phase three trials, is needed.
Mr Gan said an expert committee on Covid-19 vaccination, set up last month, will assess the data coming out of the trials and advise the ministry on its vaccination strategy.
"In the meantime, it is important to continue to ensure that our safe distancing measure or precautionary measures are in place, and we continue to observe personal hygiene and so on," said the minister.
"This will help reduce the overall infection rate in Singapore."
Responding to a question on the committee, Prof Mak said its members come from different sectors and agencies, including both academic and clinical institutions.
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