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S’pore approves Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use; first shipment by end-Dec, enough for all by Q3 2021

SINGAPORE — The authorities here have approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for the nation’s use, with the first shipment to reach the country by the end of the month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Monday (Dec 14) in a national address.

S’pore approves Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use; first shipment by end-Dec, enough for all by Q3 2021

The Health Sciences Authority has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use in Singapore.

  • The Health Sciences Authority has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use in Singapore, PM Lee said
  • The first batch of the vaccine will arrive in December, with enough for everyone here by the third quarter of 2021
  • The vaccine will be free for Singaporeans and long-term residents
  • Other vaccines are expected to arrive in the coming months

 

SINGAPORE — The authorities here have approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for the nation’s use, with the first shipment to reach the country by the end of the month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Monday (Dec 14) in a national address.

And “if all goes according to plan”, there will be enough vaccines for everyone in Singapore by the third quarter of 2021, he added.

Laying out Singapore’s Covid-19 vaccination strategy as part of a televised statement, Mr Lee said that the vaccine will be made available for free for all Singaporeans and all long-term residents now in the country.

The Government has also accepted the recommendations of an expert committee to make vaccinations voluntary, as well as a target to vaccinate the entire adult population, he revealed.

The first priority for vaccines will be healthcare workers, frontline personnel, seniors and the vulnerable. Following this, the rest of the population will be able to be vaccinated by the end of 2021.

To demonstrate that they believe the vaccine is safe for use, Mr Lee said that he and his colleagues will be getting vaccinated early.

“I strongly encourage you to get vaccinated, too, when the vaccine is offered to you, because when you get yourself vaccinated, you are not just protecting yourself, you are also doing your part to protect others, especially your loved ones,” he said.

Doing so will make it more difficult for the coronavirus to spread, Mr Lee added.

FIRST TO BE APPROVED IN SINGAPORE

The first vaccine to be approved here was developed jointly by American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech and it was also given the green light for emergency use by several regulators last week, including the United States’ Food and Drug Administration last Friday.

The vaccine has also been approved in Britain, where some people have already received it.

The approval by Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA) marks a major step forward for the country’s fight against the coronavirus, which will hinge on how soon Covid-19 vaccines become available here.

Vaccines by other drug manufacturers are expected to arrive in Singapore in the coming months, Mr Lee said.

Singapore has so far set aside more than S$1 billion in its push to secure vaccines for the country, such as by signing advance purchase agreements and early down-payments for promising vaccine candidates, including those from American biotech firm Moderna and China’s Sinovac Biotech vaccine.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was demonstrated in clinical trials to be 95 per cent effective against Covid-19 in the first 28 days after administering the first dose, while Moderna and Sinovac had also reported similar success rates.

Several pharmaceutical firms have established vaccine manufacturing capabilities in Singapore as well, Mr Lee said.

The Government has also supported vaccine development efforts here as an “insurance” in case global supply chains were disrupted, he added. Singapore’s Duke-NUS Medical School is working with US-based biotech firm Arcturus Therapeutics to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, which is reportedly on track for delivery in 2021.

“This way, we built up a diversified portfolio of options to ensure that Singapore would be near the front of the queue for vaccines and not last in line,” Mr Lee said.

He noted that the global distribution of vaccines will also support the country’s recovery “in more ways than one”, pointing to Singapore’s crucial role in transporting vaccines around the world given its strengths in cargo handling.

“Now that vaccines are becoming available, we can see light at the end of the tunnel. As vaccinations become widespread not only in Singapore, but also in our region and the world, we can look forward to resuming more normal lives.”

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