S'pore expert committee to make decision soon on mixing of Covid-19 vaccines for booster shot

SINGAPORE – The 14-member Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination (EC19V) will be making a decision soon on whether people can use a different Covid-19 vaccine for their booster shot.

At a virtual conference on Friday (Sept 17), the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 said the expert committee has been studying the issue and will present its recommendations.

The press conference also tackled other issues including a question on the approval status of the Sinovac vaccine.

Would it be possible to receive a different Covid-19 vaccine for the booster shot for a fully vaccinated individual?

Singapore’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak said the mixing of vaccines is one strategy that the EC19V is studying.

A recommendation from the committee on this issue is expected “very soon”, he added.

“And once that comes out, we will take that on board and we may adjust our strategies accordingly.”

For now, the committee has advised that the mRNA vaccines can be treated as equivalent to each other for the purposes of Singapore’s booster vaccination strategy, he said.

This means if a person has been vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, he can proceed with the same vaccine or with the Moderna vaccine for his booster shot, added Associate Professor Mak.

When will the Sinovac vaccine be approved?

Prof Mak said that the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) is continuing its work on completing the review of the Sinovac vaccine, with the authority seeking further information from the manufacturers.

He added: “We remain hopeful that once HSA completes its process, we might see HSA coming to a firm decision and giving us a recommendation as to whether or not the Pandemic Special Access Route approval can be granted to the Sinovac vaccine.”

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that new stocks are still slated to arrive around Sept 20, and will be available at clinics after that.

Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine has been allowed under the HSA’s Special Access Route since June.

As at end-August, more than 168,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered.

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Will the TraceTogether app be updated to show if someone has been issued a health risk warning?

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said this was still under review.

What is more important, he added, is for people to continue taking personal responsibility.

“I think it has been very encouraging that individuals who have received health risk warnings have been extremely cooperative. Well over 90 per cent will go get their tests and get themselves isolated.

“So I think right now, nothing beats our own personal responsibility. And I think we continue to count on that as we bend the curve and ride through this wave,” he said.

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