Singapore will receive the first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of December, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced today.
Lee said Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for pandemic use, and the government also expects other vaccines to arrive in Singapore in the coming months.
He said “If all goes according to plan, we will have enough vaccines for everyone in Singapore by 3Q2021”
The Ministry of Health has set up a committee of doctors and experts to recommend a vaccination strategy for Singapore.
Lee also revealed that the committee has proposed that the entire adult population should be vaccinated, but to make vaccinations voluntary.
The first priority will be given to those who are at greatest risk: healthcare workers and frontline personnel, as well as the elderly and vulnerable.
Thereafter, the committee proposes to progressively vaccinate the rest of the population and to cover everyone who wants a vaccination by the end of next year.
More notably, Lee said vaccinations will be made free for all Singaporeans, and for all long-term residents who are currently here. He encouraged Singaporeans to be vaccinated when the vaccine is offered to them.
“Because when you get yourself vaccinated, you are not just protecting yourself. You are also doing your part to protect others, especially your loved ones,” he added.
Singapore had set aside more than $1 billion for various vaccines for “multiple bets”, and to sign advance purchase agreements and make early down-payments for the most promising candidates, including with Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Sinovac.
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Local efforts to develop a vaccine were also supported, in case the global supply chain was disrupted. “This was to build up a diversified portfolio of options, to ensure that Singapore would be near the front of the queue for vaccines, and not last in line” he added.
Lee also reassured that Singapore had the capacity and capability to handle the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, which needs to be kept at -70 degrees Celsius.
He said Singapore Airlines, and Changi Airport’s ground handling partners are certified by IATA (International Air Transport Association) to handle and transport pharmaceutical supplies, and Singapore is gearing up to handle large volumes of vaccine shipments into and through Singapore, to help win the global fight against Covid-19.