Photo: Bloomberg

Singapore will allow the use of Sinovac Biotech Ltd.’s Covid-19 vaccine after the World Health Organization approved the drug as part of its emergency use listing.

The move means the drug can be administered by private health care providers as part of a program that allows the use of unregistered Covid-19 vaccines, the Ministry of Health said in a statement Wednesday. The Sinovac vaccine is not part of the national vaccine program.

The World Health Organization authorised the Sinovac vaccine on June 1, paving the way for a wider rollout in countries scrambling for a supply of immunizations. Singapore’s decision comes about three months after the country received its first shipment of 200,000 doses of the Sinovac shot on Feb 23, and amid debate over the efficacy of the vaccine.

The shot, dubbed CoronaVac, has the lowest efficacy rate reported from clinical trials among the frontrunner wave of vaccines: it was found to be just 50.7% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid in a trial in Brazil, barely crossing the minimum threshold required by drug regulators around the world. But real-world evidence is emerging that it’s far more effective on the ground: In a recent study of around 130,000 Indonesian health workers, it protected 94% against symptomatic infection, 96% against hospitalization, and 98% against death.

Want our latest Singapore corporate news stories for FREE

Follow our Telegram, Facebook for the latest updates round the clock

Singapore has authorized both the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc. vaccines, and has one of the best per-capita vaccination rates in Asia, with about 40% of the population having received their first dose. The Southeast Asian nation is allowing school children to be inoculated from this month, as part of its strategy to reopen the economy.

The health ministry will release more details in the coming days and is also studying the possibility for private health-care institutions to access the stock of 200,000 doses. It is working out the details on pricing, informed consent process and safety of the patients who prefer this vaccine, it said.