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Covid-19: At least 2 private healthcare groups get approval to import China’s Sinopharm vaccine

China’s Sinopharm vaccine could be available in Singapore soon, with at least two private healthcare institutions here having gotten the green light from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) to import it through a special route for as-yet-unapproved Covid-19 vaccines.

Covid-19: At least 2 private healthcare groups get approval to import China’s Sinopharm vaccine

Syringes with the Covid-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinopharm company were used in Budapest, Hungary in February 2021.

SINGAPORE — China’s Sinopharm vaccine could be available in Singapore soon, with at least two private healthcare institutions here having gotten the green light from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) to import it through a special route for as-yet-unapproved Covid-19 vaccines.

IHH Healthcare Singapore and Raffles Medical Group confirmed with TODAY on Wednesday (July 28) that they had received the approval under the Special Access Route.

This route allows private healthcare operators to bring in Covid-19 vaccines that have been put on the Emergency Use Listing of the World Health Organization (WHO).

IHH Healthcare — which owns Parkway Pantai, the largest private hospital operator here — is still working out the details and could not provide an indicative date for when it will start administering the vaccine.

Raffles Medical Group said that it is planning to start in August.

Before Sinopharm, only one other vaccine was allowed for use here under this route: Sinovac, also from China.

Sinopharm, which has an efficacy rate of 79 per cent, was validated by WHO for emergency use on May 7. Sinovac, which has an efficacy rate of 51 per cent, was validated on June 1.

Both are two-dose inactivated virus vaccines, which are different from how messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna work.

Only Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have been approved by HSA for use under the national vaccination exercise here at the moment.

IHH Healthcare’s chief operating officer Noel Yeo said that Sinopharm will give people in Singapore access to another alternative vaccine option.

As for where and when the healthcare group will start accepting appointments, he said: “Details are still being worked out at the moment. We will make a formal announcement when more information becomes available.”

Hospitals under the IHH Healthcare-owned Parkway Pantai group include Gleneagles Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital and Parkway East Hospital.

Raffles Medical Group has not responded to further queries at the time of publication, but members of the public were already allowed to register their interest for Sinopharm on its website over the past weekend.

The registration page stated that individuals aged 18 and older with no history of anaphylaxis, or severe, life-threatening allergic reactions, are eligible to take the vaccine and the recommended interval between the two doses is three to four weeks.

TODAY has reached out to HSA and other private healthcare operators to ascertain the total number of such healthcare firms that have received approval to bring in Sinopharm.

In response to an enquiry, Fullerton Health told TODAY that in working to facilitate requests for vaccines specific to their clients' situation, it has submitted applications to administer the Sinovac vaccine and would do the same for other vaccines, "not limited to Sinopharm". 

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Covid-19 coronavirus coronavirus vaccine Sinopharm HSA vaccination

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