Get vaccinated against COVID-19 when you can, instead of waiting for a specific mark, says Lawrence Wong

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SINGAPORE: When the time comes, people should get vaccinated with an approved vaccine, rather than waiting and waiting for another brand, Education Minister Lawrence Wong said on Wednesday (January 13th).

“What we have today is a licensed vaccine that is safe, that is effective,” Wong said.

Singapore has pre-purchased three vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sinovac, the latter two vaccines currently undergoing a “rigorous review process” by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), the minister said. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in Parliament earlier this month. .

The ministers, who co-chair the multi-ministerial COVID-19 working group, spoke to guest media after receiving their first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital on Wednesday.

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Mr Gan said Sinovac’s vaccine has yet to be approved.

“We are always waiting for more data, and we will look at it carefully when the time comes, rather than depending on the reported numbers. So it is better to rely on official data received from Sinovac itself,” he said.

On Tuesday, researchers revealed that the Sinovac vaccine, called CoronaVac, was 50.4% effective in preventing symptomatic infections in a Brazilian trial, well below the rate announced last week.

READ: PM Lee Hsien Loong receives first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

READ: COVID-19 vaccine can only be used if HSA deems it ‘sufficiently effective and safe’: Gan Kim Yong

Moderna has submitted data for its vaccine which is under review by the HSA, Wong said.

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If allowed for use in Singapore, the Moderna and Sinovac vaccines would be used in Singapore’s vaccination program, he added.

Mr Wong noted similarities between the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, adding that they are both based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology and have similar rates of effectiveness.

“I think between the two it’s pretty straightforward; either one will do,” he said.

The two vaccines have similar efficacy rates of around 95%.

READ: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sinovac: An overview of three key COVID-19 vaccines

READ: Only go to reliable sources for vaccine information, says COVID-19 vaccination committee head

The Sinovac vaccine uses inactivated vaccine technology, which uses a weakened form of a live virus to stimulate the body to produce an immune response. It is similar to the flu and chickenpox vaccines.

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“We still have to look at the data, we still have to see if it is more effective, for example – for specific sub-segments,” Wong said.

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