S’pore in Discussion With Pharmaceutical Companies to Manufacture Vaccines Locally

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To foreigners, Singapore may be the nation where “Crazy, Rich Asians” hails from. But to locals, it’s more like that kid in class who simply can’t stop scoring A’s in every subject, and whom later went on to become the best in their field.

A predecessor. A visionary. And perhaps most importantly, a nation with great initiative.

Now maybe if we invest more effort into our entertainment scene, the residents’ happiness index, and other lagging miscellaneous sectors, we’ll stop calling Singapore the “Almost-Perfect Country”.

S’pore in Discussion With Pharmaceutical Companies to Manufacture Vaccines Locally

Singapore’s at it again, and it appears that they’re out to kill two birds with one stone.

According to TODAYonlinethe Singapore Government is currently in works to produce vaccines and therapeutics, right here in Singapore with a “fill-and-finish” facility.

Estimated to cost a cool US$130 million (~S$174 million), the facility will reportedly manufacture up to 30 million sterile doses a month.

According to the news report, the news was publicised by Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, in response to Member of Parliament (MP) Yip Hon Weng’s queries on how the local vaccine scene would proceed.

“Singapore has a globally competitive pharmaceutical manufacturing sector,” said Mr Chan.

“Pharmaceutical companies including Amgen, Pfizer, GSK, and Sanofi, have invested here to leverage our skilled talent, commitment to research and development, strong manufacturing capabilities and excellent global connectivity,” he added.

The creation of the facility was initially announced in October 2020 by Thermo Fisher Scientific, “one of the world’s largest life sciences companies”. The company expressed that the facility will be able to “meet demand in the region and respond effectively to future health emergencies”.

Operations are expected to commence in 2022, with an expected manufacturing rate of up to 30 million doses a month.

“This new facility will consist of two new filling lines, including a high-speed sterile line approved for live virus filling, the first such large scale capability in Singapore,” Mr Chan said.

Apparently, it will also possess cleanroom capacity, labs and offices.

“It will have the versatility to manufacture a wide variety of vaccines and therapeutics, and enhance Singapore’s resilience to future pandemics beyond COVID-19,” he added.

More than 300 people are expected to be employed.

Killing Two Birds With One Stone

According to Mr Chan, the facility will do more than just manufacture doses for the general public.


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It will also attract like-minded manufacturers to Singapore, which would complement the government’s ongoing efforts to produce executives skilled in the manufacturing of vaccine and therapeutics, strengthening  their presence in the biomedical field.

At the same time, the move would also “reinforce our strategy of nurturing local companies in the biomedical sciences industry, whose research and development and innovation activities can strengthen our response to future pandemics”.

In other words, it’s one that would work for both the short and long runs.

Vaccine

Thus far, the only two vaccines which have been approved for use in Singapore are Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines.

On 23 February 2021, the first shipment of China’s Sinovac vaccine arrived on Singapore’s shores—the third COVID-19 vaccine to make its way to the country.

It has, however, yet to be authorised for official use. The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has begun reviewing data to determine if the Sinovac vaccine can be used in Singapore.

Are you angry at someone now, and can’t get him or her out of your mind? Well, watch this video and you’ll know what to do next:

While the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines tap on a new technology called mRNA to make their vaccines, Sinovac’s vaccine uses a more traditional inactivated vaccine which works by using killed viral particles to expose the body’s immune system to the virus without triggering a serious disease response.

On 22 March 2021, it was announced that Sinovac’s vaccine appears to be safe, and is able to trigger immune responses among children and adolescents.

The preliminary findings were observed in Phase I and II clinical trials involving over 500 people between the ages of three and 17.


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As of 8 March 2021, more than 596,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered.

Out of these, 217,000 have completed the full vaccination (received two doses) while another 379,000 are waiting to receive their second dosage.

Apart from the migrant workers, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has also highlighted a few groups that they’ll extend COVID-19 vaccination to as more COVID-19 vaccine stocks arrive:

  • Other high-risk groups at risk of exposure to COVID-19
  • Essential personnel in other critical functions such as news reporters, delivery staff, postmen and bank staff
  • People with multiple touchpoints with many others in the community such as those in the food delivery industry and those who work in hawker centres and markets
  • Educators and staff, starting from pre-school, national schools, ITEs, and polytechnics before moving on to other educational institutes

To know more about the vaccines, you might want to watch this video to the end whereby we simplify 10 facts about the COVID-19 vaccine:


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Feature Image: Viacheslav Lopatin / Shutterstock.com

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