Expert panel studying booster shots of Covid-19 vaccine
Committee will recommend third dose for those with severely compromised immune systems
Booster shots of the Covid-19 vaccine are being studied, while a third dose is being considered for those who have severely compromised immune systems, said the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 yesterday.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who co-chairs the task force, said: "We will very likely have to start a booster exercise. (Other) countries started vaccinations earlier than us, and we therefore now have the advantage of observing them and learning from their experiences."
He said the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination here is actively working on the booster programme and studying the results from other countries before finalising recommendations.
He noted Israel has started administering booster shots to seniors and vulnerable people.
Meanwhile, Britain, Germany and France have announced that they will start their booster shot roll-out next month.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) has also just recommended booster shots for those who completed their vaccinations at least eight months ago.
But one thing that the expert committee is clear on and will recommend is that Singapore will proceed to administer a third shot for patients who are severely immunocompromised at the time of their first two doses, Mr Ong said.
Some examples are transplant patients, those on immunosuppressive therapy, on cancer treatment and end-stage kidney disease patients on dialysis.
"Because of their conditions, these persons react much less to vaccination, even after two doses, meaning they cannot produce as much antibodies or activate the necessary mechanisms to fight the virus," he added.
"Hence, a third dose of vaccine is necessary for them. The expert committee will be putting out their recommendations on this group shortly."
According to the US CDC website, this additional dose is intended to improve immunocompromised people's response to their initial vaccine series and is not the same as a booster dose, which is given to people when the immune response to a primary vaccine series is likely to have waned over time.
In the meantime, the expert committee is studying the incidence of adverse reactions from a booster shot in other countries.
The committee is also looking into the issue of using the same vaccine or a different one. There is a scientific basis to suggest that using a different vaccine may confer stronger protection, he said, adding that Britain is implementing such a strategy and the committee will be monitoring the outcome closely.
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