Singapore — A Covid-19 vaccine could be available in Singapore at the end of the next year.
In a press conference held by the Multi-Ministry Task Force for Covid-19 on Friday (July 24), Mr Gan Kim Yong, who has since been reappointed Minister for Health, and the Director of Medical Services, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, noted that Singapore was keen on collaborating with various institutions developing potential vaccine candidates.
“There is quite a lot of work going on, not just in Singapore but in various countries, and we are participating in quite a number of them,” said Mr Gan.
He said that they have extended their interest in participating in the Covax facility, which is the vaccines pillar of the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.
This is a global collaboration to speed up the development, production and access to Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines, according to the Gavi international organisation, which is co-leading the initiative.
“Suffice to say, Singapore is working quite proactively in discussing with the various vaccine developers, pharmaceutical companies, research institutions on both collaboration of research efforts as well as advance procurement to ensure we have early access to vaccines that would become available in time to come,” said Mr Gan.
A/Prof Mak added that, once proven efficacious and safe, “we intend to bring as many of these vaccine doses into Singapore such that it can benefit our population”.
Not banking on any particular individual vaccine candidate, he noted that the task force has attempted to diversify its approach.
One would be to promote and encourage research to be done to identify a promising vaccine candidate and bring those through the required three-phase trial.
Secondly, “we have researchers in Singapore who are active in this particular area and are working to produce a locally-produced vaccine”, said A/Prof Mak.
Other pharmaceutical companies are also keen on producing their vaccine in other areas to improve access globally to different countries. “We hope that some of them may find Singapore attractive enough to consider Singapore as a production base for some of these vaccines.”
A/Prof Mak added that definitive announcements regarding a particular vaccine and its logistics could not be made at this stage as discussions remain at an early stage.
“In regard to a timeline, there are some of the companies who appear to be leading the pack, so to say, by making announcements that they have started Phase 3 trials in various places around the world,” he said.
However, there may be successes and failures in the research for a promising vaccine even at the later stages of development, he added. “And therefore, we remain watchful while some of the studies have started this year, practically speaking, we expect perhaps realistically a vaccine to be available next year rather than this year.”
Given the global demand for a Covid-19 vaccine, A/Prof Mak mentioned it might not be at the beginning of next year but perhaps towards the latter part when vaccines could be produced in sufficient doses and made available for Singapore.
“We continue to work at this pace. We hope to get a vaccine for Singaporeans to benefit from as soon as possible. At this stage, we don’t know which of the vaccine candidates will be the one most likely to be delivered and brought into Singapore. But we continue to work in making sure we have access to those vaccines.” /TISG