MOH reaches agreement with US biotech firm Moderna for Covid-19 vaccine supply

One of the "multiple bets" the Government had placed.

Andrew Koay | December 15, 2020, 05:12 PM

Editor's note: We've updated this article to include HSA's statement on their review of Moderna's vaccine. 

Moderna confirmed on Dec. 15 that they had reached an agreement with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to supply Singapore with its Covid-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273.

The news comes as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine would arrive in Singapore by the end of the month.

At the time of writing, Singapore's Health Science Authority (HSA) had yet to announce its approval for Moderna's vaccine.

Pifzer-BioNTech's vaccine is thus the only Covid-19 vaccine to be approved for use in Singapore so far.

Responding to Mothership's queries a HSA spokesperson said:

"HSA has been in discussion with Moderna on the rolling submission plan for their COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna has started submitting initial data and will continue to roll in data as soon as they become available as agreed with HSA. To ensure expeditious review, HSA has already started evaluating the available data submitted by Moderna."

Under the Pandemic Special Access Route (PSAR), HSA can start evaluating new vaccines from the early stages of clinical studies, as and when real-time data is submitted by companies on a “rolling”, or staggered basis, instead of waiting for the full data set to be submitted before starting its evaluation.

This gives HSA more time to review the submitted data while companies continue with further clinical trials and development concurrently.

More than one vaccine required for pandemic

In a press release, Moderna's chief executive officer Stephane Bancel noted that addressing the Covid-19 pandemic will require a number of vaccines.

"We appreciate the confidence the MOH of Singapore has demonstrated in our mRNA vaccine platform by including mRNA-1273 in their portfolio of vaccines."

Bancel added that Moderna would continue the clinical development of mRNA-1273.

"The recent positive primary efficacy analysis from our Phase 3 COVE study is an encouraging step forward," he said, referring to Moderna's analysis of its Phase 3 study which found that mRNA-1273 demonstrated efficacy of 94.1 per cent against Covid-19 and 100 per cent against severe Covid-19.

The study enrolled more than 30,000 participants in the U.S.

Singapore had placed multiple bets

On Dec. 2, HSA announced that it had begun to evaluate the available data submitted by Moderna on its vaccine.

"Moderna has started submitting initial data and will continue to roll in data as soon as they become available as agreed with HSA," said the HSA spokesman at the time, according to The Straits Times.

During his nationwide address on Dec. 14, PM Lee said the government had been working behind the scenes since the early days of the pandemic to secure access to vaccines.

This included placing "multiple bets", signing advance purchase agreements, and making early down-payments for the most promising vaccine candidates, he said.

The government also set aside S$1 billion for the purposes of securing vaccines for Singaporeans.

PM Lee also said that all Singaporeans and long-term residents would be receiving the vaccine for free; "I strongly encourage you to get vaccinated too," he said in his address.

Top image by Marco Verch via Flickr

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