Singapore first country in Southeast Asia to receive new pneumococcal vaccine

Singapore first country in Southeast Asia to receive new pneumococcal vaccine

SINGAPORE: Singapore will be the first country in Southeast Asia to receive Pfizer’s new 20-valent pneumococcal vaccine (PCV20), after obtaining approval from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

The pharmaceutical giant made the announcement on Saturday (Mar 18). The vaccine, which is marketed under the brand name Apexxnar, has been approved for active immunisation for individuals aged 18 years and older.

It will offer protection against invasive pneumococcal disease and pneumonia caused by 20 Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) serotypes. According to Pfizer, it also contains the broadest serotype coverage of any available conjugate vaccine. 

Pneumonia is the third leading cause of death – more than 4000 deaths annually – and the fourth most common cause of hospitalisations in Singapore. 

According to the Ministry of Health, pneumococcal infections are bacterial infections that can cause pneumonia, meningitis, bloodstream infections and other life-threatening ailments. 

PCV20 will cover seven more bacterial serotypes than PCV13, which is also manufactured by Pfizer and is currently available in Singapore, alongside another pneumococcal vaccine, Merck’s PPSV23.

The approval of the PCV20 is in line with Singapore’s Healthier SG initiative which is focused on improving population health and quality of life through proactive preventive care, regular screening and recommended vaccinations. 

“Despite its severity and burden on the population, the awareness surrounding pneumococcal disease and the uptake of the vaccine in Singapore remains relatively low,” said Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious disease specialist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital.

“With the approval of Apexxnar, and in line with the Healthier SG initiative, we encourage all adults to take proactive steps towards preventive care and vaccinate against this disease.”