More Pfizer COVID vaccines to be sent to Singapore, including doses for children, under new deal

·Senior Reporter
·3-min read
School children chase after autonomous robot Xavier, as it patrols a neighbourhood mall to detect
School children chase after autonomous robot Xavier, as it patrols a neighbourhood mall to detect "undesirable social behaviours", such as the flouting of COVID-19 safety measures during a three-week trial in Singapore on 6 September, 2021. (PHOTO: Reuters)

SINGAPORE — Singapore has signed a new supply agreement with Pfizer for its COVID-19 vaccines, including doses for children, and the US pharmaceutical company would deliver them "as soon as possible", said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Monday (15 November).

His comments come a week after the COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce co-chair said that Singapore's expert committee on the vaccines is expected to recommend the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for children aged 5 to 11 in the second half of this month.

The city-state is considering a plan to give children one-third of the adult dosage, similar to the general practice in the US.

During Monday's virtual press conference, Ong also said that Singapore's children vaccination trial – overseen by the KK Women's and Children's Hospital – is "making progress" but did not elaborate.

"The purpose of this trial is to smoothen operations when we have to do it at scale because young children are involved," he noted.

The hospital plans to start recruiting the first batch of participants, Ong said. Parents of children aged 5 to 11 can find out more about the hospital's study and registration details on its social media and website, which would be available by the end of this week.

Last week, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that about 8,000 of Singapore's COVID-19 cases were children below the age of 12. 

The MOH director of medical services Kenneth Mak on Monday said that 1,765 cases involving children younger than 12 were recorded in the week of 8 to 14 November, about 10 per cent of the total number of cases over the same time period.

"This is a slight increase in numbers compared to the week before, which was 1,667," he noted.

Children with MIS-C due to COVID-19

Associate Prof Mak also gave an update on the cases of multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) in children in Singapore arising from COVID-19. Another such case has been recorded, bringing the total number to six, with their ages ranging from two months to 11, he said.

Of the six, three have made a good recovery and have been discharged home. They would get follow-up care from specialists in hospitals, said Prof Mak.

Of the remaining three, one had initially been admitted to the paediatric intensive care unit (ICU) and had responded well to treatment. The child was later transferred to a general ward and may be discharged soon if his recovery continues, said Prof Mak.

Another child is being monitored in a high-dependency ward in a hospital and is also being treated for other infections, while the remaining child is stable in a general ward.

"Our best wishes are with the children. And we are hopeful that all of these cases will have a good outcome," said Prof Mak.

MIS-C is similar to Kawasaki disease, which has been linked to various viral or bacterial infections. The disease occurs in 150 to 200 children a year in Singapore. 

MIS-C symptoms include having a persistent fever above 38.5°C for three days or more, difficulty breathing, conjunctivitis, swollen hands and feet, and abdominal pain.

In May last year, an international review from 26 countries reported a MIS-C incidence of 0.14 per cent – 14 in 10,000 – among all children with COVID-19.

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