MOH to allow special access to other Covid-19 vaccines through private sector to boost coverage

SINGAPORE – The Ministry of Health (MOH) will allow access to other Covid-19 vaccines under the Special Access Route (SAR) in order to enhance the overall vaccination coverage.

These vaccines include the ones from Johnson & Johnson, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Sinopharm, and will be made available through the private healthcare sector.

The SAR is an existing process for the import and supply of unregistered medicines to address unmet medical needs in unique and special circumstances.

MOH has currently authorised two mRNA vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – for Singapore’s national vaccination programme.

Some individuals are unable to take these two vaccines due to various medical reasons.

The authorities will allow the SAR to be used for the supply of Covid-19 vaccines that have been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be on their emergency-use listing (EUL).

The use of such vaccines should be according to the WHO EUL-approved indications and age groups.

Once the vaccine is included in the list, a private licensed healthcare institution can bring it in to administer to individuals in Singapore, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, co-chair of the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19, at a press conference on Monday (May 31).

The Sinovac vaccine, which uses a traditional technology with killed virus, can be used here if it is included in the list.

Singapore had received a shipment of the vaccine in February 2021.

“As and when the WHO approves the Sinovac vaccine under its emergency-use list, the licensed healthcare institution can apply to MOH to draw on our existing stock of 200,000 doses to administer to those who wish to have it,” said Mr Ong.

Such use of the SAR for these unregistered vaccines will be time-limited, for the duration of the pandemic.

Like all other medicines supplied under the SAR, the doctor administering the vaccine and the patient should discuss the risks and benefits of using vaccines not registered or authorised by the Health Sciences Authority and jointly make an informed decision.

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Patients will also need to sign an informed consent form to acknowledge that they have discussed with their doctor and accept all responsibility for the risks.

The Government will not subsidise vaccines administered under the SAR, and persons vaccinated under the process will not be eligible for the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme for Covid-19 Vaccination.

Mr Ong said that the reason why some people want alternate vaccines is because of their history of anaphylaxis, which restricts them from taking mRNA vaccines.

The expert community is reviewing the safety data and will review the current position, so that those with a previous history of anaphylaxis can be vaccinated safely using the two national vaccines.

“I hope this move in the coming two weeks can address the concern,” Mr Ong added.

Read highlights from PM Lee’s speech and updates on Singapore’s Covid-19 situation from the multi-ministry task force here.

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