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Updated as of 11 May 2022

General Information on COVID-19 Vaccines


How many types of Covid-19 vaccines are there?


There are 5 main types of COVID-19 vaccines which have been announced:  


a.  mRNA vaccines: e.g. Pfizer-BioNTech/ Comirnaty, Moderna, Arcturus

b.  virus vectored vaccines: e.g. Astra-Zeneca, Gamaleya, Can-Sino

c.  inactivated virus vaccines: e.g. Sinovac, Bharat

d.  protein subunit vaccines: e.g. Novavax, Sanofi-Pasteur

e.  virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines: e.g. Medicago

How do mRNA vaccines work?


The COVID-19 mRNA vaccine consists of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) that carry instructions to make the spike protein of the virus. The mRNA used in the vaccine is synthesised and not extracted from actual viruses. After being given by intramuscular injection, the vaccine mRNA is taken up by cells which then produce the spike protein. This stimulates the production of a good antibody and cellular immune response to the spike protein that protects the vaccinated person because the spike protein is an important part of the SARS CoV-2 virus. The spike proteins are however incapable of forming SARS CoV-2 viruses or causing COVID-19 infection. The vaccine mRNA only persists for two days before it is naturally broken down by the body. It does not enter the nucleus of cells and hence cannot interfere with the DNA of the vaccine recipient.


Are mRNA vaccines a form of genetic modification?


No, they are not a form of genetic modification. The mRNA vaccine is in a form that is cannot be converted back to DNA. Since our human genome is made up of DNA, there is no possibility that the COVID-19 mRNA will interfere with or modify human DNA. The mRNA is completely degraded within 48 hours of introduction to the human body.


The spike protein generated through the introduction of the COVID-19 mRNA is recognised by the body’s immune system to develop an immune response (e.g. generation of antibodies), similar to what happens in a natural infection against COVID-19.


Are the COVID-19 vaccines halal?


The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS)’s position is that COVID-19 vaccines are permissible for Muslim use. Please refer to MUIS’ religious position on the COVID-19 vaccine here.

 What is the Comirnaty vaccine? Is it the same as Pfizer-BioNTech?
A: Yes, they are the same. The Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine is the same as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine that we have been using in our national vaccination programme. The only difference is in labelling. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is manufactured at various sites across Europe and labelled according to the regulatory approval in various markets. Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Comirnaty have the same research name - BNT162b2, and are manufactured according to the same processes and procedures. They are similarly manufactured in Europe and shipped directly to Singapore.

Those who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines earlier will see that their records in Health Hub / TraceTogether now reflect PfizerBioNTech/ Comirnaty. 

[Updated 11 May] I understand that there may be more than one strain of COVID-19. Will the vaccine cover us fully against all strains?


Based on Phase 3 trial data from Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna, the efficacy of vaccines in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 disease from the initial SARS-CoV-2 strain, after completion of the vaccine regimen, is above 90%. Locally, against the Delta variant, they have been found to reduce the risk of any infection by around 40%, while the risk of severe disease is reduced by around 90%, in the absence of boosting. 

There is limited data on the efficacy and effectiveness of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine against the Delta or the Omicron variant. 
MOH will continue to monitor the evolving situation and global studies of vaccine efficacy against various COVID-19 variants.

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