SINGAPORE: Singapore received its first shipment of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday (Feb 17), two weeks after authorities approved it for use here.
The vaccines were carried on board Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight SQ7137, a scheduled freighter service from Brussels, Belgium, and arrived in Singapore at about 1.40pm.
"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 the Health Sciences Authority has granted interim authorisation for Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine to be used in Singapore for people aged 18 years and above.
This is the second vaccine approved for use in Singapore.
SIA had on Dec 21 delivered the first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine to Singapore.
Education Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force, said on Facebook that another batch of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine arrived in Singapore on Wednesday morning.
"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 once the shipment arrives at the airport, the temperature-controlled cargo containers would be unloaded to cool dollies, which have temperature loggers and location tracking features.
The containers are then brought to Coolport in an "unbroken cold chain", it added.
At Coolport, individual checks are conducted before the containers are stored in cold rooms with the required temperature range.
They will then be transferred via dedicated temperature-controlled truck docks for delivery by agents or freight forwarders.
The vaccines - both Moderna's and Pfizer's - have to be stored at very low temperatures because they are made from easily destroyed genetic material called mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid).
Moderna's vaccine can be stored at -20 degrees Celsius and lasts in a fridge for 30 days, while Pfizer's vaccine has to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius and lasts for only five days at standard refrigerator temperatures.
DELIVERING VACCINES TO OTHER COUNTRIES
SIA has also delivered COVID-19 vaccines to other countries.
The airline transported a shipment of Sinovac's vaccine to Indonesia on Feb 2 using a passenger aircraft from Singapore, where it was stored for 2.5 hours after arriving from Beijing.
On Feb 15, SIA delivered a batch of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine to Australia and New Zealand via its Singapore hub.
"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.
The airline said it has made available cargo space on its flights and will "accord uplift priority" to COVID-19 vaccine shipments across the key vaccine trade lanes.
"This means readying the airline's seven Boeing 747-400 freighters, as well as the airline's passenger aircraft fleet which will be deployed on cargo operations to increase the capacity for vaccine transportation where needed," SIA added.