Covid-19 vaccines ‘sufficiently’ effective and safe; Singapore govt to provide financial support if recipients suffer adverse side-effects

05-Jan-2021 Intellasia | Today | 12:20 PM Print This Post

Covid-19 vaccines will be approved in Singapore against the disease only if they are “sufficiently efficacious and safe for use” and only if the benefits outweigh the risks of adverse side-effects, Health minister Gan Kim Yong told Parliament today.

And if people suffer from a serious adverse reaction due to the vaccines, the government will provide financial assistance via a vaccine injury financial assistance programme to support them.

“While we expect few to need this, the programme will give peace of mind to those taking the vaccination,” he said.

More information on the programme will be announced later.

Gan said that the common side-effects of the Pfiser-BioNTech vaccine, which is the only one approved for use in Singapore thus far, are similar to those for other established vaccines and usually resolve on their own.

He was responding to several questions from Members of Parliament (MPs) on the safety, efficacy and side-effects of the vaccines.

For instance, Workers’ Party chair Sylvia Lim, an MP for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency, had asked Gan about the criteria and benchmarks used by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) when it evaluates the vaccines.

In response, Gan said that the concerns raised by the MPs were understandable, given the “extraordinary speed at which the Covid-19 vaccines have been developed and brought to market”.

“The speed achieved is the result of a strong and concerted global response to a major pandemic, rather than a compromise of safety standards,” he added.

In the meantime, HSA is reviewing vaccines developed by the United States-based Moderna and Sinovac from China, which have been given the green light in other countries.

Emphasising again that the standards used for assessing and approving vaccines in Singapore are based on strict international standards, Gan said: “These standards are the same as those used for full vaccine evaluations, except that longer-term data from clinical trials will be evaluated only later, as the data becomes available.”

An independent expert committee appointed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) has also reviewed the data of the Pfiser-BioNTech vaccine and has agreed with HSA that the vaccine is suitable for use here by those 16 and older.

HSA and the committee will continue monitoring the efficacy and safety of Covid-19 vaccines in Singapore and abroad, including among pregnant women and those under 16, as well as the vaccines’ long-term safety data and how long they are able to protect those inoculated against infection.

Blood donations by vaccine recipients will not be affected as coronavirus vaccines do not cause infections, Gan said in response to a question by Hougang MP Dennis Tan.

New UK virus strain

On the new, potentially more transmissible virus strain seen in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in recent weeks, Gan said that there is no evidence that the vaccines’ effectiveness against Covid-19 will be negatively affected by the viral mutation that created the B117 strain.

Vaccine producers, including Pfiser-BioNTech and Moderna, have given reassurances that their vaccines protect people against the new strain, he added.

On top of this, MOH is formally studying the impact of the new strain on vaccines.

Gan said: “MOH will evaluate the data as it emerges and review our vaccine strategy and border measures accordingly.”

The new strain has been reported to be up to 70 per cent more infectious than previous strains.


As for the vaccines’ side-effects, Gan said that HSA and the independent committee had also factored these into their evaluations, based on clinical trials and the experience from the vaccination programmes in other countries.

“As with all medications and established vaccines, there is a small risk of very rare but serious adverse events that may occur post-vaccination, including allergic reactions,” he said, referring to reported cases of life-threatening anaphylactic reactions to Covid-19 vaccines overseas.

Singapore does not recommend vaccinations for those with known severe allergies.

All vaccine recipients should also be observed on site for 30 minutes after they are vaccinated, so that any severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis can be detected and treated promptly, Gan said.

“Let me assure (members of the House) that the safety and well-being of Singaporeans is top priority in our vaccination efforts.”


Category: Malaysia

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