SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Thursday (12 November) that it has appointed a 14-member committee on COVID-19 vaccination to make recommendations to the government on Singapore’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy.
The recommendations of the committee, which was appointed on 5 October, will include the safe and effective use of COVID-19 vaccines in Singapore’s population.
The committee is chaired by Associate Professor Benjamin Ong, Senior Advisor to the Director of Medical Services, Ministry of Health, and Senior Vice President (Health Education and Resources), National University of Singapore.
Comprising experts in infectious diseases, immunology and other relevant fields, the committee will leverage scientific and clinical expertise to assess vaccine candidates, and recommend the appropriate vaccines for use against COVID-19 in Singapore when they become available.
The committee convened its first meeting on 13 October 2020 and has met regularly in the past month to discuss the profiles of various vaccine candidates, as well as conditions for vaccine deployment in Singapore.
Its chairperson A/Prof Ong said, “There are many factors to consider as not all vaccines would be suitable, safe and effective for all segments of our population. The Expert Committee will need to closely study the safety and clinical data as they become available, while taking into account our local context, so that we can assess and recommend an appropriate and holistic vaccination strategy that can be put in place for the Singapore population.”
The announcement of the committee’s set-up comes days after several trials of leading vaccine candidates conducted in Singapore and elsewhere yielded promising data.
A COVID-19 vaccine co-developed by a US pharmaceutical company and Duke-NUS Medical School is expected to be ready and supplied to Singapore in the first quarter of next year.
The company, Arcturus Therapeutics, said on Monday that the Economic Development Board has committed US$45 million (S$60 million) to fund the manufacture of the ARCT-021 vaccine candidate and up to an additional US$175 million (S$235 million) to buy the vaccine.
The ongoing Phase 1/2 development of ARCT-021 is being conducted in Singapore and has yielded “positive interim clinical study results”, Arcturus said.
Drug giant Pfizer also announced on Monday that its experimental vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech are the first drugmakers to announce successful data based on a large clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine.
Russia's sovereign wealth fund said on Wednesday that the country’s Sputnik V vaccine is 92 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19, according to interim trial results.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Tuesday even when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, it is unlikely that the entire population of Singapore can be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
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