1st shipment of Novavax COVID vaccine arrives in S'pore, to be offered from end-May

A vial and a syringe are seen in front of a displayed Novavax logo, in this illustration taken, November 27, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
(Reuters file photo) (Dado Ruvic / reuters)

SINGAPORE — The first shipment of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Singapore on Wednesday (4 May) and the doses will be administered from end-May, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).

In a press statement, the MOH said it will start offering Nuvaxovid – a protein-based vaccine – at Singapore's first joint testing and vaccination centre at the former Bishan Park Secondary School, as well as 20 Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) at the end of the month.

The joint testing and vaccination centres, slated to start operating end-May, will be a new class of facilities offering COVID-19 testing and vaccination services. This will help consolidate Singapore's resources, while ensuring testing and vaccination services remain accessible to the public, said MOH.

"We are also working to onboard selected PHPCs to offer the Nuvaxovid vaccine. Further details will be announced in the coming weeks," the ministry added.

The COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce on 14 February accepted the recommendation of the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination (EC19V) to include the Novavax's Nuvaxovid vaccine under Singapore's vaccination programme for use in those aged 18 years and above, for both COVID-19 primary series and booster vaccination.

The US biotechnology company filed for interim authorisation with Singapore authorities for use of the vaccine under the pandemic special access route in November last year.

Nuvaxovid is one of two non-mRNA shots approved for use under the national drive, alongside the inactivated CoronaVac developed by Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac.

The two-dose vaccine is made with lab-grown copies of the spike protein that coats the coronavirus.

It is developed differently from the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – the other two vaccines used under Singapore's national vaccination drive – which deliver genetic instructions for the body to make its own spike protein.

"Having considered the data on its safety, efficacy, and tolerability, the EC19V recommends the Nuvaxovid vaccine as an acceptable alternative to the mRNA vaccines in individuals aged 18 years and above, although the mRNA vaccines still remain the preferred vaccines due to their higher efficacy and the stronger immune response generated," MOH said.

Boosters and vaccinations "remain a critical part" of Singapore's COVID-19 strategy in ensuring the population is well protected against infection and severe illness, according to MOH.

Those who are eligible for vaccinations and booster doses should receive them as soon as possible, it reiterated.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday, "If you are still not vaccinated or boosted, (Nuvaxovid) is a good alternative to the mRNA vaccines to get protected against COVID-19," adding that the shipment arrived in Singapore in the morning.

As of Tuesday, 92 per cent of Singapore's total population have completed their full COVID-19 vaccine regimen, while 74 per cent have received their booster shots.

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