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Singapore approves Moderna vaccine as inoculation drive continues

Singapore

Singapore said Wednesday it has approved the use of drugmaker Moderna’s vaccine, the second vaccine to which the government has given the nod after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that arrived last December.

The Health Sciences Authority said it has granted an “interim authorization” for the use of the vaccine in the city-state, with the first shipment expected to arrive around March.

Taking into account some delays in the shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Singapore is aiming to have enough vaccines for all Singaporeans and long-term residents within this year, with the government promising free but voluntary vaccinations.

Aside from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, Singapore has also signed a purchase deal with China’s Sinovac Biotech for the vaccine it has developed.

Singapore began its vaccination campaign on Dec. 30 with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. So far, more than 175,000 people here have received their first dose, among which 6,000 have received their second dose.

Earlier on Tuesday, Singapore’s parliament passed a law limiting the use of data collected for coronavirus contact-tracing after the government admitted it could be accessed by police, sparking privacy concerns.

The city-state last year rolled out a programme called “TraceTogether” for tracking close contacts of Covid-19 patients that works via both a phone app and dongle, but uptake was initially slow, Agence France-Presse has reported.

It rose to more than 80 percent of residents after government assurances the data would only be used to fight the virus and a decision to make it mandatory for accessing some public places.

But there was an outcry last month when officials admitted police could access information gathered in the scheme as part of investigations, and had already done so during a murder probe.

On Tuesday, lawmakers approved legislation limiting the cases in which police can get hold of the data.

It did not cut them off entirely but will give them access only during investigations into seven categories of serious offence, including possession of firearms, terrorism and rape.

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