Singapore is set to ramp up its vaccination programme as the first shipment of Moderna’s vaccine arrived in the city state on board Singapore Airlines’ B747-400 freighter.
Flight SQ7137 flew in from Brussels with the vaccine doses on 17 February. The freighter made a short stop in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, Payload Asia learned, before making its way to Changi Airport.
SIA said the Moderna vaccine shipment was prioritised for loading in Brussels and likewise for unloading in Singapore. This is the second Covid-19 vaccine approved for use in the city-state after the Pfizer-BioNTech candidate, which the airline delivered first last December.
The new batch of vaccines is expected to ramp up the nation’s vaccination drive, with seniors scheduled to be inoculated next week. An earlier shipment containing Pfizer-BioNTech jabs on Wednesday also landed in the city-state, with more vaccines to arrive over the coming months, authorities noted.
Earlier this month, SIA Group, along with SilkAir and Scoot, operated its flights with a fully vaccinated pilot and cabin crew in line with Singapore’s move to prioritise the aviation sector for jabs.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore in January started vaccination for air crew and airport workers with around 20,000 frontline aviation staff to be prioritised. As of last week, the Ministry of Transport had recorded more than 90 percent of frontline aviation and maritime workers receiving their first shot.
At a media round table last week, AAPA director general Subhas Menon reiterated the need to prioritise the roll out of the vaccines amidst new border restrictions that have continued to curtail air travel. Aside from life-saving jabs, Menon mentioned that the industry is exploring a form of digital travel pass combining traveller identification, health certification, border control authorisation and public health information, to make travelling safe and convenient for passengers.
“Safety and Sustainability are the cornerstones of aviation,” Menon said. “The well-being of the industry, our customers and the future of aviation rests on these core values, which put the industry in good stead, as we prepare for a new travel reality beyond COVID-19.”
Amidst a downtrend in air travel, most airlines have found a lifeline in air cargo, and the ongoing worldwide distribution of jabs is providing a much needed boost. SIA said it has made available cargo space on freighter and passenger flights and will accord uplift priority to Covid-19 vaccine shipments across key routes.
The airline has been active in the worldwide distribution of life-saving jabs, ferrying vaccine shipments to Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia over the past two months. This week it joined some of the world’s leading carriers in Unicef’s Humanitarian Aifreight Initiative to secure the air transport of vaccine doses to participating countries under the COVAX Facility.