Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) has allowed the use of Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s COVID-19 vaccine, after the World Health Organisation (WHO) approved the drug as part of its emergency use listing.
MOH had announced that through a special access route, private healthcare institutions will be able to bring in unregistered COVID-19 vaccines. The WHO authorised the Sinovac vaccine on June 1, paving the way for a wider rollout in countries scrambling for a supply of immunisations.
Singapore’s decision comes about three months after the country received its first shipment of 200,000 doses of the Sinovac shot on February 23, and amid debate over the efficacy of the vaccine.
The shot, dubbed CoronaVac, has the lowest efficacy rate reported from clinical trials among the frontrunner wave of vaccines: it was found to be just 50.7% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid in a trial in Brazil, barely crossing the minimum threshold required by drug regulators around the world. But real world evidence is emerging that it’s far more effective on the ground: In a recent study of around 130,000 Indonesia health workers, it protected 94% against symptomatic infection, 96% against hospitalization, and 98% against death.
The vaccine has not been approved for use by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA). Yesterday, MOH said it will release more details in the coming few days for private healthcare institutions to apply to be licensed providers for the Sinovac-CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine under the special access route.
The ministry also reiterated that Sinovac is not part of the national vaccine programme and therefore will not be covered under the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme for COVID-19 Vaccination.
WHO recommended the vaccine for use in adults 18 years and older, in a two-dose schedule spread out across two to four weeks.