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Top experts in healthcare, science appointed to committee to make recommendations on Singapore's Covid-19 vaccination strategy

SINGAPORE – A 14-member committee has been appointed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to make recommendations to the Government on its Covid-19 vaccination strategy, and ensure the safe and effective use of vaccines against the coronavirus here.

On Thursday (Nov 12), MOH said in a news release that the committee is chaired by Associate Professor Benjamin Ong, senior adviser to the director of medical services. He is also senior vice-president (health education and resources) at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

The committee comprises experts in infectious diseases, immunology and other relevant fields. Its members include the chief health scientist and executive director of MOH’s Office for Healthcare Transformation, Professor Tan Chorh Chuan; the chief executive at the Consortium for Clinical Research and Innovation Singapore, Dr Danny Soon; and the vice-president of healthcare and wellness at the Economic Development Board, Dr Lisa Ooi.

“The expert committee will leverage scientific and clinical expertise to assess vaccine candidates, and recommend the appropriate vaccines for use against Covid-19 in Singapore when they become available,” said MOH.

The Ministry added that the committee’s role is to consider the most up-to-date information and assessment of Covid-19 vaccines, including closely monitoring the global vaccine development landscape and stance of agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO).

As the latest clinical data of vaccine candidates emerges, the expert committee will assess their safety, efficacy and suitability for use by the different segments of Singapore’s population.

It will then make recommendations regarding the administration of vaccines to specific segments of the population and the overall vaccination strategy for Singapore.

The committee was first announced to the public at a press conference on Nov 10. MOH said on Thursday that the expert committee’s appointment came into effect on Oct 5.

It convened its first meeting on Oct 13 and has met regularly in the past month to discuss the profiles of various vaccine candidates, as well as the conditions for their deployment in Singapore’s context.

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Prof Ong said on Thursday that as more vaccine candidates are made available for clinical use, ensuring that they are safe and effective will be a top priority for the committee – especially since not all vaccines are suitable for all segments of the population.

He added: “The safety of Singaporeans is our top priority, and the diverse range of expertise among my colleagues in the Expert Committee will put us in good stead as we deliberate on strategies for the implementation of Covid-19 vaccination in Singapore.”

The committee comprises:

Chair 
Associate Professor Benjamin Ong, senior advisor to the director of medical services, MOH, and senior vice-president (health education and resources), NUS

Members 
1) Dr Cheong Wei Yang, deputy secretary (special projects), MOH
2) Associate Professor Chong Chia Yin, director of clinical quality and patient safety at the Division of Medicine and senior consultant at the Infectious Disease Service at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital
3) Professor Nicholas Gascoigne, from the Immunology Programme and Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine
4) Associate Professor Lim Poh Lian, director of the High Level Isolation Unit at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) and head of the Traveller’s Health and Vaccination Clinic at Tan Tock Seng Hospital
5) Associate Professor David Lye, director of the Infectious Diseases Research and Training Office at NCID
6) Associate Professor Helen Oh, senior consultant at the Department of Infectious Diseases at Changi General Hospital
7) Dr Lisa Ooi, vice-president of healthcare and wellness at the Economic Development Board
8) Dr Anuradha Poonepalli, regulatory consultant at the Therapeutic Products Branch, Health Products Regulation Group, Health Sciences Authority
9) Associate Professor Ren Ee Chee, principal investigator at the Singapore Immunology Network and adjunct associate professor at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology
10) Professor Laurent Renia, executive director and senior principal investigator at the Infectious Diseases Horizontal Technological Centre, and senior principal investigator at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*Star) Singapore Immunology Network
11) Dr Benjamin Seet, group chief research officer at the National Healthcare Group
12) Dr Danny Soon, chief executive officer at the Consortium for Clinical Research and Innovation Singapore
13) Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, chief health scientist and executive director at the MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation

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