MOH to work out details of Pfizer vaccine donation to Johor, S'pore still has stock in reserve

Singapore's demand for the vaccine booster programme will pick up only in early 2022.

Faris Alfiq | September 09, 2021, 04:57 PM

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Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) said that it is currently working towards donating around 100,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to Johor.

An MOH spokesperson said on Sep. 9 that the ministry is discussing the donation details.

“We are therefore working towards the donation of around 100,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to Johor," the spokesperson said as reported by CNA.

The spokesperson added that "the specific details of the donation are still being discussed with the relevant parties, including the pharmaceutical companies."

The statement comes after Johor's Chief Minister Hasni Mohammad said on Sep. 6 that Singapore would be contributing 100,640 doses of Pfizer vaccines to the state of Johor.

This contribution is on top of the 20,000 Sinovac vaccines that Singapore contributed on Jul. 29, 2021, which Hasni described as a "sign of close ties" between the state of Johor and Singapore.

Contribution can boost the resilience of the region

The spokesperson also said that Singapore has achieved a high rate of vaccination and the country has stock in hand, but all vaccines have expiry dates.

“In the meantime, our neighbours in the region are in need of vaccines as they are ramping up their national exercises, whereas our demand for (the) vaccine booster programme will pick up only early next year,” said the spokesperson as reported by CNA.

The spokesperson added that "given these considerations, it makes sense to channel vaccines to where they are needed most in our region, through donations and swap arrangements."

On Aug. 31, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Singapore would provide 500,000 doses of its existing Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to Australia in a dose sharing arrangement with the country.

It also said that Singapore could help boost the overall resiliency of the region by extending mutual support and assisting neighbouring countries.

Vaccine swap arrangements, donations, do not impact the timing of booster shots

The co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Task Force (MTF), Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, has said that Singapore's contribution of Covid-19 vaccines to other countries will not impact the government's plans for giving booster shots to vaccinated individuals. 

Responding to Mothership's queries during a media doorstop on Sep. 6, Wong said that Singapore has enough vaccines to roll out the booster programme for those who need them, based on the timeline that the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination (EC19V)  had recommended.

He added that as Singapore swaps now and gets back later, Singapore will then have enough vaccines when the demand for boosters goes up in the following months.

Wong also cited Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who said that the vaccine swaps are actually advantageous for Singapore because the number of people who are eligible for the boosters will progressively rise over time, since not everyone received their first dose of the vaccine in February and March.

"In fact, the swaps do not in any way impact on our booster programme," he said.

Singapore's upcoming programme of booster shots

Singapore will be commencing a Covid-19 booster programme for two groups of people, after receiving advice from the expert committee.

Those who belong in these two groups are individuals who are moderately to severely immunocompromised, and individuals aged above 60 years old, and residents of aged care facilities.

These individuals are recommended to receive a third dose of the same mRNA vaccine two months after their second dose, as part of their primary course of vaccination.

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