Offering Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccines to the public in Singapore for the first time since Friday, several private clinics reported overwhelming demand for the Chinese-made shot, despite already available rival vaccines having far higher efficacy.
Singapore has vaccinated almost half its 5.7 million population with at least one dose of the vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Both have shown efficacy rates of well over 90 percent against symptomatic disease in clinical trials, compared with Sinovac’s 51 percent.
Earlier this week, officials in Indonesia said that more than 350 medical workers have caught COVID-19, despite being vaccinated with Sinovac and dozens have been hospitalized, raising concerns about its efficacy against more infectious variants.
Evidence from other countries showed that people who had taken the Sinovac vaccine were still getting infected, Kenneth Mak (麥錫威), Singapore’s director of medical services, said on Friday.
“There is a significant risk of vaccine breakthrough,” he said, referring to the report on Indonesian healthcare workers.
A number of the people rushing for the Sinovac shot on the first day of its availability in Singapore were Chinese nationals, who felt it would make it easier to travel home without going through quarantine.
Singapore allowed the usage of the Sinovac vaccine by private healthcare institutions under a special access route, following an emergency use approval by the WHO earlier this month.
Singapore said it is awaiting critical data from Sinovac before including it in the national vaccination program.
In the meantime, authorities have selected 24 private clinics to administer its current stock of 200,000 doses. The clinics are charging S$10 to S$25 (US$7.50 to US$18.60) per dose.
“We have about 2,400 bookings, so that stretches from right now until end of July,” Louis Tan, chief executive officer at StarMed Specialist Centre, said yesterday.
He said many of those who made the Sinovac bookings tend to be in their 40s or above.
Wee Healthfirst, another approved clinic, put a notice at its entrance on Friday, saying that it had stopped reservations for the vaccine until Thursday next week, citing “overwhelming demand.”
A receptionist said about 1,000 people had registered there.
Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases doctor at Rophi Clinic, also said he had been “overwhelmed” by people wanting the Sinovac shot.
Tang Guangyu, a 49-year-old engineer, was among the Chinese nationals resident in Singapore who waited for the Sinovac shot rather than take a foreign-made vaccine that he thought might not be recognized by authorities back home.
“No one wants to be quarantined for a month, I don’t have so many days of leave,” Tang told reporters as he lined up outside a clinic.
Ethiopia’s Afar region on Friday called on civilians to take up arms against rebels from neighboring Tigray, signaling a potential escalation in fighting that has already displaced tens of thousands this week. “Every Afar should protect their land with any means available, whether by guns, sticks or stones,” regional President Awol Arba said in an interview aired by regional state media. “No weapons can make us kneel down. We will win this war with our strong determination.” Tigrayan rebels launched operations in Afar last weekend, saying they were targeting pro-government troops massing along the two regions’ shared border. A government official said on
The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has fully vaccinated 90 percent of its eligible adult population within just seven days, the Bhutanese Ministry of Health said on Tuesday. The tiny country, wedged between India and China and home to nearly 800,000 people, began giving out second doses on Tuesday last week in a mass drive that has been hailed by the UN Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) as “arguably the fastest vaccination campaign to be executed during a pandemic.” Bhutan grabbed headlines in April when its government said it had inoculated about the same percentage of eligible adults with the first dose
‘LIBERATE HONG KONG’: The prosecution argued that the slogan was in the tradition of rallying cries for secession dating back to the Qin and Qing dynasties Three Hong Kong judges are to rule tomorrow whether the protest slogan: “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our Times” is a call for secession when they deliver a verdict on charges against a man arrested at a demonstration last year. The landmark ruling could have long-term implications for how a Beijing-imposed National Security Law against secession, terrorism, subversion and collusion with foreign forces reshapes the territory’s common law traditions, some legal scholars say. Democracy advocates say that a ruling to outlaw the slogan would tighten limits on free speech. The slogan was last year chanted during democracy protests, posted online, scrawled on walls,
For almost 500 years, the arch that connects the largest Gothic cathedral in the world with its Renaissance sacristy has offered visitors a sumptuous, if little glimpsed — and even less studied — vision of religious bounty. The 68 beautifully carved plates of food that adorn the archway in Seville’s cathedral offer rather more than bread and wine. There are pigs’ trotters and wild strawberries, aubergines, clams and oysters. There are peaches, radishes, a skinned hare with a knife by its side, a squirrel served on a bed of hazelnuts and a plate of lemons across which a small snake slithers. There