Singapore Expert Committee Backs Use of Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine

A group of top Singapore health experts backed the government’s move to approve the Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s coronavirus vaccine after it conducted an independent review of clinical data on its safety and efficacy.

The vaccine demonstrated a high efficacy rate of 95% and its safety profile is consistent with the high standards set for other registered vaccines used in immunization against other diseases, the committee of experts said in a statement issued by the health ministry on Sunday. It is suitable for use for those aged 16 and above, and is expecting further trial data on other groups, such as pregnant women, the committee said.

Singapore should prioritize healthcare workers, the elderly and individuals with chronic health illness given the limited supply, the experts said. The committee, made up of individuals from the city-state’s public universities, government ministries and research centers, was formed in October to give recommendations on Singapore’s vaccination strategy.

Those aged 70 and above should be first in line as they are more vulnerable to severe health complications when infected, followed by individuals over 60 years old, according to the statement.

The committee also recommended that about 5% of available vaccine stocks at any given point in time be set aside for specific groups of people who work in essential services, such as water and utilities, to ensure that the country can function effectively in case of an outbreak.

Recommendations made by the committee marks another step for Singapore’s vaccination strategy. The first batch of Pfizer and BioNTech shots arrived last week. The Southeast Asian nation has set aside more than S$1 billion ($750 million) for vaccines and said there should be enough for its population of about 5.5 million people by the third quarter.

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