SINGAPORE: On Wednesday (Feb 17), Singapore received the first shipment of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, two weeks after the authorities approved it for use here.
The vaccines were brought on board Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight SQ7137, a scheduled freighter service from Brussels, Belgium, and arrived at approximately 1.40pm in Singapore.
Pleased to see the safe arrival of the first batch of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine this afternoon, earlier than expected. Our vaccination programme is proceeding smoothly. The latest delivery will allow us to continue as planned. – LHL https://t.co/LYPH3acygZ— leehsienloong (@leehsienloong) February 17, 2021
“The vaccines were prioritised for loading into the aircraft in Brussels and was given precedence during unloading in Singapore. They were then transported to SATS’ cold-chain facility, Coolport, for subsequent storage and ground transportation,” SIA said on Wednesday.
It was announced on Feb 3 that an interim authorisation was issued by the Health Sciences Authority for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to be used in Singapore for people aged 18 and over.
This is the second vaccine in Singapore that has been approved for use.
On December 21, SIA shipped to Singapore the first shipment of Pfizer-COVID-19 BioNTech’s vaccine.
Education Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the multi-ministerial task force COVID-19, said on Facebook that on Wednesday morning, another batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in Singapore.
“More vaccines from both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech will arrive over the course of the year,” he added.
“We will continue to monitor our supplies closely, to meet our target of vaccinating all Singaporeans and long-term residents by the end of this year.”
Explaining its role in the vaccine handling process, SATS said that once the shipment arrives at the airport, the temperature-controlled cargo containers that have temperature loggers and location tracking characteristics will be unloaded to cool dollies.
The containers are then transported in an’ unbroken cold chain’ to Coolport, it added.
Individual tests are carried out at Coolport before the containers are placed in cold rooms with the temperature range required.
Then they will be transferred for delivery by agents or freight forwarders via dedicated temperature-controlled truck docks.
The vaccines – both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s – must be kept at extremely low temperatures since they are made of genetic material called mRNA that is easily damaged (messenger ribonucleic acid). “Singapore’s geographical location, coupled with SIA’s extensive network connectivity and the strong pharmaceutical handling capabilities at Singapore Changi airport, positions it well as a key transit hub for the for the transportation and distribution of pharmaceuticals,” said SIA.