Singapore may get COVID-19 vaccine in 1Q 2021, EDB providing almost $300m support

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·2-min read
Cropped hand wearing a nitrile glove holding a Covid-19 vaccine vial and a syringe
COVID-19 vaccine vial. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — 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 in a press release on Monday (9 November) that the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) 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 is being conducted in Singapore and has yielded “positive interim clinical study results”, Arcturus said.

The study involved 106 subjects, including older adult subjects. To date, 78 subjects have received at least one injection of the vaccine candidate, 36 subjects have received two injections, and 28 subjects have received placebo.

“No subjects have withdrawn from the study and there have been no serious adverse events deemed to be treatment related,” Arcturus said.

The company is in discussions with the Singapore Health Sciences Authority to advance the vaccine candidate into later stage clinical studies. It is expected to hold discussions with more agencies within the next few weeks.

“The promising Phase 1/2 study results indicate that ARCT-021 could be effective as a single administration, which differentiates this investigational vaccine from many other COVID-19 vaccines in development,” said Professor Ooi Eng Eong, Deputy Director of Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme, Duke-NUS Medical School.

“ARCT-021 has the potential to provide important public health benefits by greatly facilitating broad administration across multiple populations worldwide,” added Prof Ooi, who is also a member of Arcturus’ Vaccine Platform Scientific Advisory Board.

Andy Sassine, Chief Financial Officer of Arcturus, said, “Along with our global manufacturing partners, we have laid the foundation to produce hundreds of millions of doses of ARCT-021 over the next 18 months.”

News of the vaccine candidate came on the same day of the announcement by drug giant Pfizer that its experimental vaccine was more than 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 based on initial data from a study. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech are the first drugmakers to announce successful data based on a large clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine.

On 20 October, the Ministry of Health said Singapore plans to vaccinate parts of its population against COVID-19 from next year following the completion of Phase 3 clinical trials into the leading vaccine candidates.

MOH director of medical services Kenneth Mak said many of the vaccine candidates around the world would only complete Phase 3 studies some time next year.

Singapore authorities had earlier assured that if and when an effective vaccine becomes available, every Singaporean who needs it can get it at an affordable price.

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