Singapore — People have been lining up for hours—sometimes even sleeping in the streets overnight—to book appointments for the Sinovac vaccine shots.
However coveted these jabs are, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has said that those who have received the Sinovac shots, as well as other vaccines that are not part of Singapore’s national vaccine program, still need to be subjected to pre-event testing, unlike those who received the mRNA vaccine shots from Pfizer and Moderna.
The issue at hand is vaccines’ effectiveness against the variants of the Covid-19 infection that are currently going around, particularly the more infectious Delta variant that spread across India.
According to a Jun 25 Reuters report, antibodies produced due to two Chinese vaccines have been shown to be less effective against the Delta variant in comparison to other strains, although they still provide a measure of protection.
MOH said, ”Hence, from the public health point of view, individuals vaccinated with vaccines other than those in our Covid-19 national vaccination programme will still have to undergo pre-event testing.”
On Mar 24, MOH said that individuals who have received both doses of the vaccines and had time to produce enough antibodies to be protected from infections would be exempted from testing before events including meetings, conventions, exhibitions and wedding solemnisations.
At that time, only vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna received authorisation for use in Singapore.
And while this is still the case, by May the government approved 24 private healthcare clinics to administer Sinovac shots, although it is still not part of Singapore’s national vaccination regime.
Sinovac is still unregistered and is not authorised by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) to be used under the Pandemic Special Access Route.
This means that the vaccines administered are not covered under the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme, which provides aid in the event that people have adverse effects from their Covid-19 vaccinations.
Only those who received jabs under the national vaccination programme may benefit from the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme.
MOH has also said that doctors are obligated to tell patients that should they receive shots that are not under the national vaccine programme, they may not receive the same benefits or protection.
This gives individuals the opportunity to weigh out different risks as they make the decisions as to which vaccine they want. /TISG
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