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SINGAPORE – People who have received the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine will not be exempted from pre-event testing, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (June 30).
Vaccines not included in Singapore’s national vaccination programme – Sinovac’s among them – may lack sufficient documentation of how effective they are at protecting against Covid-19 infection, and in particular against the Delta variant of the virus currently circulating, said MOH.
The Delta strain is a new mutation of the coronavirus that is more infectious.
“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,” said MOH.
The Government previously said that those who are fully vaccinated are exempt from pre-event testing before attending events such as live performances, Mice events, and wedding solemnisations.
Authorities gave approval last month to24 private healthcare clinics to draw on the Government’s existing stock of the Sinovac vaccine.
The Sinovac vaccine is not part of Singapore’s national vaccination regime, which currently uses the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna vaccines.
For the past two weeks, many of these clinics have been inundated with calls and requests from residents wanting the Sinovac jab, as many rushed to register their interest and get on the waitlist for the China-made vaccine.
This is despite authorities saying that the Sinovac vaccine is not entirely effective at preventing infection, based on evidence from other countries.
On June 22, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore posted on its website that only the Pfizer and Moderna jabs will be accepted for pre-event exemptions for certain Mass events here, and congregants will be required to show proof of this.
It issued a clarification three days later that the Sinovac vaccine is not under the MOH’s list of recognised vaccines that allow exemption from pre-event testing.
“We would also like to encourage members of the faithful who have yet to be vaccinated or who have received the Sinovac vaccines, to continue to attend Masses that are meant for 50 or fewer persons. For these Masses, no pre-event testing is required and all the faithful, including non-vaccinated individuals, are able to attend them,” it said.
The Sinovac vaccine remains unregistered and is not authorised by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for use under the Pandemic Special Access Route. It is to be provided here only under the Special Access Route (SAR) framework.
Vaccines under this framework are not covered under the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme, the scheme that supports people who suffer adverse effects from their Covid-19 jabs, meant for the national vaccination programme.
The ministry added on Wednesday that doctors are required to inform their patients receiving vaccines under SAR that they may not be regarded in the same manner as those vaccinated under our national programme.
This allows their patients to weigh risks versus benefits when proceeding with vaccination using such SAR vaccines, said MOH.