Singapore — Former Nominated Member of Parliament Calvin Cheng, who is known for his pro-Government views, has in a Facebook post criticised its decision to pre-order the Sinovac vaccine.
Mr Cheng was commenting soon after a report on Wednesday (Jan 13) that Brazilian clinical trial results showed the Sinovac vaccine having only a 50.4% efficacy rate.
He said that signing an advance purchase agreement was “a failed gamble by the Singapore Government” and that it “took a gamble on the wrong Chinese vaccine and have lost”. This was because China has another vaccine, Sinopharm, which was proven to have a higher efficacy rate.
Mr Cheng added that the country cannot roll out Sinovac to the population now, even when the vaccine arrives, and calls the development “a huge step back for our vaccination programme”.
The Government has said that the people will not be able to choose the vaccine they want to receive. It is focusing on three: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sinovac.
Mr Cheng’s post raised many questions and remarks from the online community. Some support his stand on not releasing the Sinovac vaccine in Singapore, while others are refuting his argument.
Some argue that Mr Cheng misunderstands what the 50.4% efficacy rate means, and that he should do more research on the other vaccines before making such a strong statement. Others have pointed out that the Sinovac vaccine has not yet been approved by the authorities, which means fears of receiving an ineffective vaccine are unfounded.
On the other hand, there are those who whole-heartedly support his post and are asking that the Sinovac vaccine be removed from the list of vaccines Singapore is receiving.
The Health Sciences Authority has yet to approve the vaccine and there will be regulatory scrutiny and authorisation before it is rolled out. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said this on Wednesday (Jan 13) after the Brazilian test results were released.
At the moment, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only authorised one in Singapore.
Denise Teh is an editorial intern at The Independent SG. /TISG