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As new Covid-19 variants come about, Singapore may have to consider administering booster shots to vaccinated individuals

At a virtual press conference held by the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force on Thursday (April 22), co-chair Lawrence Wong said at a virtual press conference that Singapore might have to continue with “further rounds of vaccination even beyond this year”.

Mr Wong, who is also Education Minister, explained this by saying that we will have to be confronting "not just the virus today but potentially new strains of the virus that may be more infectious and virulent,"

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His comments come as the world attempts to figure out how often people would need to get vaccinated to ensure long-term protection against Covid-19 and its variants. 

Currently, Kenneth Mak, who is the Health Ministry's director of medical services, said there is “quite a bit of thought” that vaccinations should last for at least nine to 12 months or even beyond that. However, he added that beyond that, "it’s still a relatively uncertain situation."

The task force also said: "There are two developments that influence us in our thinking about giving further vaccinations, even to those who have received the first two vaccinations already."

Mak added that just as recovered workers may have a gradually waning immune protection from the vaccine, “this may also apply to those who have been vaccinated.”

(Related: Covid-19 Vaccine: You Can Now Choose Between Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna in Singapore)

Mak continued by saying: “Therefore, as we do tests, following up [on] some of these individuals who have been vaccinated if we find that their immune level is starting to drift downwards, this would be the right time to then start planning to vaccinate these people as well.”

At the virtual press conference, Mak also addressed concerns about new Covid-19 virus variants of which Singapore has detected seven local cases and 342 imported cases. 

While the vaccines that are currently being used in Singapore, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Moderna, have been shown to be effective against the known variants of the virus, Mak warned that it might not always be the case as the virus continues to mutate.

He added that booster vaccine doses may be required if there are future varients that the current vaccines do not protect against.  

The task force noted that manufacturers are looking into producing improved versions of the vaccines that will have better protection even against new variants of the virus and that the Singapore government is paying close attention to the issue. 

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