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By Massita Ahmad
SINGAPORE, May 16 -- Singapore may consider giving one dose of COVID-19 vaccine first to as many residents as possible in the second phase of its vaccination program.
“There has been many international studies, and it shows that even with one dose it provides good protection without compromising efficacy,” said co-chair of Multi-Ministry Task Force (MTF) on COVID-19, Ong Ye Kung at a virtual press conference today.
“Our scientists have been studying this, we have an expert committee as you know, and the evidence locally and overseas point towards this,” said Ong who is also the republic's Health Minister.
Ong noted that immunologist around the world also expressed opinion that it is reasonable to extend the duration between the first and the second dose.
“So instead of 21 or 28 days, or three or four weeks, which is the case currently, it can possibly extend to six to eight weeks,” he said.
Ong said this will also be helpful given the current situation where Singapore is seeing more cases.
“This is a strategy for phase two of our vaccination exercise moving forward. Once we are ready, we will put it out very soon,” he said.
Meanwhile, given the sharp increase in the number of community cases, including the spike in unlinked cases today, MTF said there is a need to reduce interactions and avoid the risk of large clusters.
As such, from May 19, all primary, secondary, junior college and Millennia Institute (MI) students, including students from Special Education (SPED) schools, will shift to full Home-Based Learning (HBL) till end of the term on May 28.
Citing the ministry’s director of medical services Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, Ong said the B1617 strain appears to affect children more.
Singapore has 12 open clusters at the moment with one cluster related to Case 63131, a 50 year-old female Singaporean who works as a tutor at Learning Point.
She was confirmed to have COVID-19 infection on May 12. Five of the cases are students at Learning Point.
As at 12 noon today, Singapore's total caseload stood at 61,585.
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