S'pore's vaccine swaps with other countries don't impact timing of booster shots: Lawrence Wong

There are enough vaccine doses for all who need booster shots.

Sulaiman Daud | September 06, 2021, 06:58 PM

Singapore's contribution of Covid-19 vaccines to other countries will not impact the government's plans for giving booster shots to vaccinated individuals.

This is because the booster programme is based on a timeline laid out by the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination, and Singapore has enough supplies for booster shots.

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who's also co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Task Force, said this at a media doorstop on Sep. 6,  in response to Mothership, who asked whether the excess vaccines being sent to other countries like Australia could have been used to hasten the booster programme instead.

Mothership also asked if the excess vaccines could have been given to Singaporeans of different demographics, other than the seniors and the immunocompromised, who were identified by the Expert Committee as candidates for booster shots.

Lawrence Wong: Booster programme not impacted

Wong replied that the vaccine swaps do not impact the schedule of the nation's booster programme:

"The swaps that we have engaged in do not in any way delay the timing of our booster programme. Not at all.

We have enough vaccines to roll out the booster programme for those who need them, based on the timeline that the Expert Committee had recommended."

The timeline is six to nine months after someone has completed their primary course of Covid-19 vaccination. Wong said that the first batch of seniors will be invited to receive a booster shot in two weeks, and the government is studying the possibility of offering booster shots to younger individuals.

Wong also cited Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who said in an earlier press conference 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 the vaccines in February and March.

Therefore, more people will need boosters as time passes, corresponding to the increased number of people who got fully vaccinated. Wong added:

"And when that happens, we swap now, we get back later, we will have (enough) vaccines when the demand for boosters goes up in the following months.

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

Singapore's Covid-19 vaccine swaps

Singapore has participated in various vaccine sharing programmes over the past few weeks.

Back in July, speaking at the APEC Leaders' Informal Retreat, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Singapore intends to donate its excess vaccines under the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access (Covax) initiative to other countries.

He added that countries who are ahead of their vaccination programmes should "make their excess vaccine supplies available to others".

Singapore has sent 500,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Australia, who will return an equal amount in December.

Singapore has also contributed 100,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to the Malaysian state of Johor.

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Top image from Lawrence Wong Facebook page and Unsplash.