Singapore Airlines (SIA) delivered the first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines to Singapore, marking a crucial step to inoculate the population.
The vaccine shipment, the first to be delivered to a country in Asia, was carried by SIA’s Boeing 747-400 freighter, SQ7979.
The scheduled freighter flight departed on Sunday (20 December) from Brussels and arrived in Singapore on Monday (21 December) at around 1955 hours, met by Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, Mr Kevin Shum, the director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and the chief executives of Changi Airport Group and SIA.
The shipment was prioritised for loading into the aircraft in Brussels and during unloading in Singapore. Ground handler SATS transported the doses to its cold-chain facility SATS Coolport for subsequent storage and ground transportation.
SIA said it conducted a successful trial in handling the vaccine on on the same freighter flight route on 19 December. It carried out the trial with thermal shippers, known as cool boxes, and tracked the internal temperature of each box during the flight, including the sublimation rate of the dry ice.
Also read: Moderna to seek HSA approval for vaccine use in Singapore
Chin Yau Seng, Senior Vice President Cargo, SIA, said the carrier was honoured to play a part in the this important milestone for Singapore in the fight against Covid-19.
“It also served to demonstrate SIA’s and the Singapore air hub’s readiness for the very important job of transporting and distributing Covid-19 vaccines internationally,” he added.
SIA is part of the taskforce led by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Changi Airport to handle the transport of the Covid-19 vaccines across the cold chain.
Also read: How DHL ensured WHO supplies got to the far-flung Pacific
DHL Global Forwarding arranged for the collection of vaccines from the manufacturing site in Puurs, Belgium, accompanied by security escorts on the road to the Brussels airport.
The cargo arrived at Singapore’s air hub on December 21 where DHL handled the customs clearance and final delivery to a designated location in Singapore. The forwarding division said it will also handle the return of these special shipper boxes to Europe.
Already being administered in UK, Canada and the US, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the first Covid-19 vaccine approved by the Health Sciences Authority in Singapore. As of press time, details on how how it will be rolled out are yet to be disclosed.
The vaccines will be offered on a free and voluntary basis to all Singaporeans and long-term residents who are currently in the city state, with priority given to healthcare and front-line workers, as well as elderly and vulnerable patients.
See photos below with credit to the Ministry of Communications and Information: