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04 Sep 2020

4th Sep 2020

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Leon Perera
MP for Aljunied GRC

Question No. 35


To ask the Minister for Health (a) whether Singapore will be joining trials for COVID-19 vaccines developed by other nations and, if so, when will these trials commence; (b) whether there are plans to purchase vaccines currently under clinical trial around the world; and (c) whether a framework has been developed for the manner of administration of a COVID-19 vaccine in Singapore once one has been adopted. 

Written Answer

The Government is closely monitoring the global progress in the development of COVID-19 vaccines, and taking active steps to ensure that Singapore has timely access to an effective and safe vaccine when this becomes available.

Duke-NUS Medical School is collaborating with a United States biotechnology company, Arcturus Therapeutics, to co-develop a COVID-19 vaccine. The school supported the pre-clinical studies by conducting rapid screening of potential vaccine candidates for effectiveness and safety, and by conducting animal trials. Phase 1 human clinical trials for this vaccine started in early August at the SingHealth Investigational Medicine Unit (IMU). Singapore is also participating in the discussions led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the multi-country Solidarity Vaccine Trials.

Singapore is actively pursuing the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines with a number of pharmaceutical companies, while keeping abreast of the progress of the various vaccine candidates under development. These discussions are covered by confidentiality obligations and we will not be able to provide more information at this point in time. We are also actively engaged in international discussions, such as with the WHO, CEPI and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi), as well as like-minded countries to look into early, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines through the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility.

MOH is working on plans for the administration of a COVID-19 vaccine when it is assessed to be safe and effective for use, and has received the appropriate approvals by the Health Sciences Authority. This will take into consideration the characteristics of the vaccine, suitability for different population subgroups, and availability of the supply and other factors. Our priority is to protect individuals who are most vulnerable or at high risk from the disease, as well as those who may be more likely exposed to infection, while working progressively towards a high level of vaccination in the population. We will need to refine and adapt our vaccination strategy as more clinical data from the various vaccine candidates become available in the coming months.