No need for COVID antibodies tests for Singapore residents after vaccination: MOH official

People seen queueing at a vaccination centre in Jurong West on 23 February 2021. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
People seen queueing at a vaccination centre in Jurong West on 23 February 2021. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — There is no need for residents in Singapore to get themselves tested after receiving their COVID-19 vaccination to determine that they have the relevant antibodies, said a top Ministry of Health (MOH) official on Wednesday (24 March).

Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, Deputy Director of Medical Services at MOH, was responding to a question on the level of immunity in the population while the vaccination programme is ongoing during a multi-ministry taskforce (MTF) on COVID-19 media conference.

But Prof Mak said there would be instances where serological investigations might be carried out for individuals who have been vaccinated to test for antibodies, such as if they are showing symptoms of respiratory infection.

“And in the course of doing this, we might assess the degree of immune protection after vaccination, but no routine requirement for tests to be done otherwise,” he added.

Gan Kim Yong, Health Minister and co-chair of the MTF, also responded to the question, saying that as more people get vaccinated, the overall immunity in the population will increase.

“But we also have to bear in mind that even if you are vaccinated, it is not 100 per cent guarantee (against COVID-19 infection),” Gan added.

Prof Mak said there is “very strong” evidence that COVID-19 vaccination works and accords immunity to recipients, and that the number of infections has consequently fallen, as attested in the mass vaccination campaigns such as in Israel and the UK.

Also at the MTF was Lawrence Wong, Education Minister and co-chair of the MTF, who said that the authorities would be looking at some form of testing for individuals travelling to Singapore after their vaccination.

These might include tests to ascertain that the individuals have been vaccinated, and whether they have the antibody response arising from whatever vaccines they have received, Wong said.

During the MTF, Gan announced that Singapore citizens, permanent residents, and long-term residents aged 45 to 59 can begin registering online for their COVID-19 vaccinations.

Up till now, the Singaporean government's focus has been on vaccinating the country's seniors and certain frontline workers.

The MTF also announced that more employees can turn up at their workplaces, and more people can attend marriage solemnisations and receptions, and live performances, subject to safe-distancing measures being observed.

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