SINGAPORE — Singapore had signed an advance purchase agreement for the Novavax vaccine in January, and is awaiting the American biotechnology company's application for regulatory approval, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Thursday (24 June).
However, Ong added that the vaccine is still undergoing phase-three clinical trials in the US, and shipment will not be ready so soon.
The vaccine, jointly developed by Novavax and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, is produced by creating an engineered baculovirus containing a gene for a modified spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
It is thus made differently from the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which are the two vaccines currently used in Singapore's national vaccination programme.
Separately, 24 healthcare institutions had been licensed by the Ministry of Health to provide the Sinovac vaccine to those who wish to take it.
"Recently there have been some encouraging results of Novavax clinical trials published in the papers," said Ong during a COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce virtual press conference on Thursday.
"We are working closely with Novavax and awaiting their application for regulatory approval. We hope the vaccine suppliers can arrive before the end of the year, for those who want to take (a vaccine) that is non-mRNA.
"In the meantime, please continue to consider mRNA vaccines, they work very well. Please consider them unless you are medically not eligible to take them, such as if you're allergic to the first dose."
This comes as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Wednesday said it will add a warning about rare cases of heart inflammation in adolescents and young adults to fact sheets for the two mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
Ong also noted that over 5 million doses of vaccines have been administered in Singapore as of Wednesday.
Over 3 million in Singapore – or around 53 per cent of the local population – have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while about 36 per cent have been fully vaccinated with two doses.
Singapore now aims to fully vaccinate two-thirds of the population against COVID-19 by National Day and will accelerate its vaccination plan from this Saturday, Ong added.
Trial studies have shown that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines proved to be effective at least six and three months, respectively. Immunity from Moderna's vaccine should last at least a year, said the company a month after the study results were released in December last year.
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