By Chen Lin
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore is expecting to administer at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine to its entire adult population by early August, authorities said on Tuesday, after a decision to widen the gap between doses to inoculate more people faster.
Close to two million of Singapore's 5.7 million people have received at least one dose, according to official data as of Monday. About 1.4 million recipients have completed the full two-dose regimen, authorities said.
"Lengthening the interval to between six to eight weeks will enable us to cover more people with the first dose of the vaccine more quickly, who will then have some protection," the health ministry said.
The same approach has been used elsewhere, including Britain, France and Germany. Singapore's current gap is three to four weeks.
The move comes as the country tackles a recent increase in infections, after months with relatively few community cases. It last week tightened restrictions on social activities and urged people and companies to work from home.
Singapore on Tuesday also authorised the use of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for those aged 12 to 15 years, to extend protection to more groups.
The health ministry said data showed the vaccine for younger people "demonstrated high efficacy consistent with that observed in the adult population," adding its safety profile was also consistent with that of the adult population.
Singapore expects to complete its vaccination programme this year, provided that supplies arrived as scheduled.
The city-state has been using the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines and has taken delivery of 200,000 doses of the vaccine of China's Sinovac, which has yet to be granted emergency use authorisation.
(Reporting by Chen Lin; Editing by Ed Davies, Martin Petty)