Updated Comirnaty vaccine against Covid-19 expected in S’pore by end-Oct: Janil Puthucheary

The Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination will give recommendations on who should receive it, said Senior Minister of State?for Health Janil Puthucheary. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE – The updated Comirnaty vaccine for new Covid-19 variants is expected to arrive by end-October, and the Government has no plans to start charging for Covid-19 vaccines as they are critical in keeping the virus at bay, said Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary.

Emerging new Covid-19 variants have been reported to carry a number of additional mutations compared with previous Omicron variants.

“Fortunately, scientific and empirical evidence show that existing vaccine formulations continue to accord good protection to individuals against severe illness,” said Dr Janil.

“The Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination is currently reviewing data of the updated Comirnaty vaccine and will be giving its recommendations on who should be receiving it,” he added.

Currently, the Ministry of Health (MOH) strongly recommends that seniors, aged 60 and above, residents living in aged-care facilities and medically vulnerable people continue to receive the updated vaccine one year after their last booster shot.

The Health Sciences Authority last Tuesday approved the monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccine from Pfizer for people aged six months and above, and is reviewing other XBB.1.5 vaccines, which include the updated Comirnaty one.

Dr Janil said that healthy people between the ages of 12 and 59 may also receive the additional dose in 2023, which remains free under the National Vaccination Programme.

“There are no plans to charge for Covid-19 vaccines because vaccines still play a critical role in keeping Covid-19 at bay,” he added.

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He was replying to questions in Parliament from Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) and Ms Joan Pereira (Tanjong Pagar GRC) on Tuesday.

Ms Pereira had asked if Singapore’s vaccine strategy will incorporate booster doses of updated vaccines, while Mr Saktiandi wanted to know if Singaporeans will continue to get their booster shots free.

Dr Janil said Singapore is able to achieve Dorscon (Disease Outbreak Response System Condition) green not because Covid-19 has suddenly become a mild disease.

“It is still a dangerous virus, especially for vulnerable individuals and seniors. We can live with the virus now because our resilience has strengthened due to vaccinations and safe recovery from infections,” he added.

On whether there are plans to modify the mask-wearing requirement in healthcare settings, Dr Janil said MOH will continue to monitor the broader communicable disease situation, review the disease control practices and adjust its approach accordingly.

Correction note: This story has been updated to reflect the correct day HSA approved the monovalent XBB.1.5 vaccine from Pfizer for people aged six months and above.

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