Vaccines licensed for S'pore not according to price or country of origin: Janil Puthucheary

Singapore is on track to vaccinate all who wants one by third quarter of 2021.

Sulaiman Daud | February 01, 2021, 02:42 PM

Singapore has signed advance purchase agreements with Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers Pfizer, Moderna and Sinovac.

However, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved by Singapore's Health Sciences Authority so far.

Singapore in discussions with other vaccine manufacturers

During the Parliament session on Feb. 1, Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary confirmed that purchase orders with the above companies have been signed, and informed the members that Singapore is also in discussions with other pharmaceutical companies.

Recently, other vaccines from Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and AstraZeneca have been reporting their trial findings.

In a follow-up question, Workers' Party Member of Parliament (MP) Gerald Giam asked if the signing of the purchase agreements had any bearing on whether the other two vaccines -- Moderna and Sinovac -- would eventually be approved.

He added:

"Will MOH (Ministry of Health) roll out only the safest and most effective vaccines available, or are there other factors like price and country of origin, that are considered."

In reply, Puthucheary said:

"Mr. Speaker, the factors taken into account as to whether a vaccine is licensed for us here in Singapore is quite simply that they have strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

And that is the process through which the license is evaluated for the vaccine, and how we manage the process going forward. I'm afraid we can't talk too much about the agreements that we have with the various companies because of the confidentiality of those undertakings."

Singapore on track for vaccination goal of 3Q2021

In follow-up questions, Leader of the Opposition and Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh asked if there was any update on the timeline of the approval process for the Moderna and Sinovac vaccines.

He also asked if the government is still on track for its goal of vaccinating all Singaporeans who want a vaccine by the third quarter of 2021 (end-September 2021).

In reply, Puthucheary said:

"I do not have an update on the certification of the Moderna and Sinovac vaccinations. That will be a process for the professional teams to study the data and make sure that our licensure process is applied with its usual rigour, for all therapeutic (interventions).

Our plans haven't changed our plans will, of course, contingent upon the supply of vaccine and the questions from the members indicate that the understanding and concern about how the supply of vaccine will affect our plans. Currently our plans have not changed. And we anticipate our program to proceed as previously discussed."

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Top image from YouTube and CNA video.