Singapore COVID booster: Pfizer or Moderna vaccines interchangeable

·Senior Reporter
·2 min read
A nurse prepares to vaccinate healthcare workers at Gleneagles hospital, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Singapore January 19, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su
A nurse prepares to vaccinate healthcare workers at Gleneagles hospital, during the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Singapore. (Reuters file photo)

SINGAPORE — Eligible fully vaccinated individuals in Singapore who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can opt to take a booster shot of the Moderna vaccine, and vice versa.

This follows the advice of the expert committee on COVID-19 vaccination, which said that mRNA vaccines under Singapore's booster vaccination strategy "can be treated as equivalent to each other", said the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak on Friday (17 September) during a virtual doorstop interview.

Singapore's booster vaccine programme began on Wednesday, with about 3,200 people aged 60 and above receiving either of only two vaccines – produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna – approved for use under the national vaccination drive. 

The expert committee had recommended that seniors receive their booster shots six to nine months after the initial two doses.

The committee will also be looking at alternative vaccination regimes to deploy under Singapore's national vaccination drive, as and when other vaccines are available here and approved by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), added Associate Professor Mak.

"We may see then subsequent recommendations about whether they can be used also for booster strategies, but not at this time," he added. 

Review of Sinovac vaccine ongoing

Meanwhile, the HSA is working to complete its review of the Sinovac vaccine for use under the national vaccination drive, having made additional requests for more information from the manufacturers, said Prof Mak, who added that he remains hopeful of the outcome.

Currently, the CoronaVac vaccine – as well as those made by Johnson & Johnson, Oxford-AstraZeneca, and Sinopharm – is approved for use under the special access route for private healthcare providers. An additional 101,000 doses of CoronaVac is expected to arrive in Singapore next Monday.

Those who have received CoronaVaC locally as well as returning Singapore residents who have received a vaccine overseas not under the national vaccination drive would be allowed to receive two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

To date, 82 per cent of Singapore's population have completed their full regimen, or received two doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and 84 per cent have received at least one dose.

Separately, the MOH is looking at other treatment options to help improve outcomes for those who have been infected with COVID-19 as well as those who have been exposed to the disease. 

"These medications might be used to reduce their risk of getting a very bad infection subsequently, but many of their reviews have yet to complete and we're not able to make any firm announcements on this right now," said Prof Mak.

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