Moderna is in talks with Health Science Authority (HSA) here to approve the use of its COVID-19 vaccine in Singapore, according to a Straits Times report.
Chief executive Stephane Bancel was quoted by the Straits Times as saying that they are ready to ship the vaccine here ‘right away’ once approval is given.
“We’ve started sending to Singapore, all the information that we have, and we’re having a very good dialogue with them,” he said.
“It is, of course, their decision how long they need to be comfortable with the data because their (priority) is to ensure safety, but I anticipate that it could be maybe in December, maybe in January.”
Latest data released by Moderna shows that its vaccine is 94% effective.
In a study of 30,000 volunteers, only 11 people who received two doses of the vaccine developed symptoms after being infected with COVID-19. This compared with 185 symptomatic cases in a placebo group.
None of those who received the vaccine developed severe COVID-19 compared with 30 in the placebo group.
Moderna’s vaccine relies on a novel technology that uses messenger RNA (mRNA) to code for a protein called spike that studs the surface of the pathogen.
Pfizer and BioNTech have developed a similar mRNA vaccine against COVID-19 with an efficacy rate of 95%.
Both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech said their vaccines worked to about the same degree in all different groups, ethnicities, and genders.
Together with AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are the frontrunners in the race for an effective vaccine against COVID-19.
Earlier, Health Minister Gan Kin Yong had said that Singapore will work towards “securing a portfolio” of Covid-19 vaccines to cater to different segments of the population. He did not provide details.
No vaccine is perfect
Meanwhile experts warned that no vaccine is perfect.
While the vaccines do prevent most people from falling ill with COVID-19, there is no data to show that they stop a person from being infected. Hence the asymptomatic vaccinated individual can still go on to infect others without getting sick.
“Asymptomatic COVID-19 infection in vaccinated individuals could still allow the virus to spread in our community and cause Covid-19 in unvaccinated individuals,” said Prof Ooi Eng Eong, deputy director of Duke-NUS Medical School’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme.
Hence, everyone should continue to wear a mask and practise safe distancing.
While a good vaccine boosts a person’s immune system to give them a headstart in fighting a disease, it may not confer 100 per cent protection, nor will it work on everyone. It can also wear off in time.
Nevertheless, when many people are vaccinated, the virus will not be able to travel so easily. The entire community will be less likely to get the virus.