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Chinese Sinovac vaccine debuts in Singapore to high demand

Neill Fronde



PHOTO: Singapore had a rush on Sinovac vaccines when they became available yesterday. (via Jernej Furman Flickr)

While Sinovac is much maligned in Thailand, when it became available in Singapore yesterday, there was an overwhelming demand for the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine. Singapore has been using Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to inoculate nearly half of the 5.7 million residents on the small country so far. Despite those 2 vaccines having shown to be over 90% effective against symptomatic infection, citizens are opting for Sinovac with its 51% efficacy.

The race for many in Singapore to get the Sinovac vaccine on the first day it was available was because many are Chinese nationals who believe having the Chinese-made vaccine would make it much easier to travel back to China without the need for quarantine.

Singapore has not fully approved Sinovac, so it is not part of their national vaccination campaign. But after the World Health Organisation gave Sinovac approval for emergency use, the government allows private healthcare facilities to administer the vaccine. They will sell the vaccine for the equivalent of 234 to 584 baht. Once more critical data is gathered, the country will consider approving Sinovac for general use.

200,000 Sinovac vaccines were distributed to 24 private clinics in Singapore though, and many are reporting huge demand. One said they were booked until the end of next month after receiving 2,400 vaccine appointments, while another stopped taking reservations until next Thursday after a rush of 1,000 appointments.

Many requesting the vaccine were noted to be over 40, and many Chinese nationals wanting to go home for a visit. They worry that foreign vaccines won’t be accepting when they arrive in China, but feel secure that Sinovac won’t be a problem. Without an approved vaccine, China requires up to 1-month quarantine for people entering the country.

Other people in Singapore rushing for the Sinovac vaccine feel safer taking a traditional vaccine instead of the newer technology of messenger RNA, just beginning its human application despite existing for years. The Health Ministry of Singapore recommended severely immunocompromised people or those with anaphylaxis to mRNA components should not take the mRNA vaccine brands.

Despite the debate over the effectiveness of mRNA versus traditional vaccines that use the inactivated virus, authorities assure that both types of vaccine can be effective, and in Singapore, Sinovac has the advantage of being Chinese-made.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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