Private clinics in Singapore seeing demand for Sinovac and Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccines as booster shotsRead Now
SINGAPORE: Several private clinics here have been seeing a demand for Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines as booster shots, owing largely to a fear of side effects from the third dose of an mRNA jab.
Vaccines like Sinovac and Sinopharm use inactivated viral particles to teach one's immune system to make antibodies.
So far, it has been recommended that those aged 50 and above take an additional mRNA shot of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines at least six months after their two-dose vaccine regimen, to ensure a high level of protection from severe disease is maintained across a longer period.
The Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination is still studying the possibility of mixing vaccines for the booster dose.
Dr Chua Guan Kiat, a general practitioner at Chua Medical Clinic and Surgery in Bukit Batok, told The Straits Times that there has so far been a "sizeable demand" for Sinovac and Sinopharm as vaccine boosters, the bulk of which comes from the elderly who had been fully vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine.
Since his clinic started offering Sinovac jabs on Sept 23, Dr Chua said that 20 to 30 doses of booster vaccine are being administered each day, with demand likely to rise steadily now that those over 50 have also been invited to take their booster doses.
He added that the fear of potential side effects from a third dose of the mRNA vaccine has been a major driving force to opt for an inactivated vaccine like Sinovac as a booster.
"Anecdotally, many who had one dose of the inactivated vaccine after receiving two doses of the mRNA had very good antibody results. No doubt, the best antibody results were still obtained with a third mRNA dose, but many didn't want to go through the same side effects again," he said.
One of his customers, Mr Ho, who is in his 60s, recently received his Sinopharm booster jab after two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Asked why he had opted for Sinopharm instead of an mRNA vaccine, Mr Ho said he felt the Sinopharm vaccine uses a tried-and-tested inactivated virus technology, whereas the mRNA technique was previously used to help stimulate antibody response in patients with late-stage cancers.
Mr Ho, who declined to give his full name and his occupation, said the long-term effects of mRNA still remain unknown.
He told ST that he experienced severe pain at his injection site after his second Pfizer dose but not after his Sinopharm booster.
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