NOTICE PAPER NO. 805
NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER
FOR THE SITTING OF PARLIAMENT ON 1 NOVEMBER 2021
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Yip Hon Weng
MP for Yio Chu Kang SMC
Question No. 2110
To ask the Minister for Health (a) whether the Ministry will provide more details about how the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines are being evaluated through its evaluation process under the national vaccination programme; and (b) in order to meet the criteria to be included in the programme, what further form and type of safety and efficacy-related data will the Ministry require.
For a COVID-19 vaccine to be authorised for use in Singapore, HSA will first have to evaluate the vaccine under the Pandemic Special Access Route (PSAR), where detailed safety, efficacy and quality control data have to be submitted and examined.
Second, for vaccines approved under PSAR, MOH will consider if it should be included under the National Vaccination Programme (NVP). In the case of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine, MOH decided to include it because we did not have a non-mRNA vaccine in the NVP, the vaccine had demonstrated efficacy against severe disease, and its safety profile was consistent with other registered vaccines against other diseases.
We have no plans to evaluate Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines under PSAR at this juncture. Our Expert Committee is also monitoring vaccines developed based on other platforms, and studying the possibility of a heterogolous strategy, i.e. using a booster vaccine of a different technological platform from the primary series. If this is proven to be safe and effective, we will consider including other vaccines into the PSAR and NVP.
For children aged 12 years and above, HSA has authorised the use of Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty Vaccine. HSA is in discussions with the company to facilitate the regulatory submission for vaccination in those aged five to 11 years.
Mr Murali Pillai and Mr Yip Hon Weng had asked about mandating COVID-19 vaccination. Making COVID-19 vaccination compulsory is a significant move and should be carefully considered. Factors that need to be considered are the COVID-19 situation in Singapore, vaccination coverage of the whole population and amongst vulnerable groups, international practice, and availability of fully registered COVID-19 vaccines, bearing in mind that current approval is still under pandemic special access.
Introduction of vaccination-differentiated safe management measures (VDS) and workplace requirements had allowed fully vaccinated persons to participate in more community and economic activities, while protecting persons who are not vaccinated. This has led to more coming forward to get vaccinated. We have also made progress in reducing the numbers of unvaccinated among our elderly population from 200,000 in July this year to fewer than 70,000 currently. For those who remain unvaccinated, we will continue to reach out and provide detailed information on the benefits of vaccination against the risk of disease to address their concerns and convince them to be vaccinated.
We take note of the Members’ suggestion, that perhaps the unvaccinated should also be responsible for part of their medical bills should they be infected. We have been receiving similar suggestions from members of public, and will consider this carefully. We should be clear that the objective is not for collecting revenue, and cost of treatment will still be heavily subsidised. Instead, this serves as a strong signal for the unvaccinated to get their jabs.
MOH continues to strive to expand the portfolio of COVID-19 vaccines that we bring in under the NVP, so that there is a suitable vaccine for everyone. We strongly encourage all medically eligible persons to take the vaccine and booster once they are eligible.