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Singapore – Health authorities have announced that people will likely need a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccines currently available in Singapore as these provide protection against coronavirus for up to 18 months.

Director of Medical Services Kenneth Mak said during a virtual news conference on Thursday (Apr 22) that “while vaccination gives a clear protective benefit to all who may be exposed to Covid-19 infection, the vaccination is not 100 per cent protective. (And) beyond (18 months), it’s still a relatively uncertain situation”.

Associate Professor Mak said that Singapore, along with other countries, has studied the possibility of a third booster dose.

He noted the possibility of “gradually waning immune protection” among vaccinated individuals, citing cases of Covid-19 reinfections.

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Assoc Prof Mak also mentioned the emergence of viral variants such as the UK, Indian and South African variants, which may be resistant to the available vaccines.

“And if that were the case, it may well be the case that we need booster vaccine doses to augment the immunity that we already have from the previous vaccinations and to give us additional protection, particularly against these variants of concern,” said Assoc Prof Mak.

To date, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines are the only two authorised for use in Singapore. Pfizer announced earlier this month that its vaccine showed 91 per cent efficacy against Covid-19 and more than 95 per cent efficacy against severe disease up to six months after the second dose, which completes the vaccination process.

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Meanwhile, the Moderna vaccine has shown an efficacy rate of 94 per cent at six months.

People will likely need a third shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as immunity against the virus wanes, confirmed Pfizer-BioNTech’s chief medical officer, Dr Ozlem Tureci, to CNBC on Wednesday (Apr 21).

Dr Tureci, who co-founded BioNTech, said she also expects people to get vaccinated against the virus annually, just like against the seasonal flu, as vaccine-induced immunity against the coronavirus will decrease over time.

As of Sunday (Apr 18), approximately 2.2million doses of the Covid-19 vaccines have been administered. About 1.3 million have received the first dose while 849,764 have completed the full vaccination regimen, said the Ministry of Health in an update./TISG

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