SINGAPORE: Australia returned about 500,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Singapore on Thursday (Nov 18) as part of a "sharing arrangement" agreed on in August.
Under the agreement, Singapore sent around 500,000 doses of the mRNA vaccine to Australia on Sep 2 to help accelerate Australia’s vaccination roll-out.
"The returned doses from Australia will support Singapore’s ongoing programme to administer COVID-19 booster vaccinations to eligible segments of our population," said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a press statement.
"This dose sharing arrangement is testament to the strong relations between Singapore and Australia, underpinned by our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership."
MFA said the health and foreign affairs officials from both countries worked "closely" to implement the arrangement.
"Throughout the pandemic, both countries have also shared best practices to combat COVID-19, cooperated to keep markets open and ensure supply chain connectivity, and worked together to resume two-way quarantine-free travel," MFA added.
When the deal was announced on Aug 31, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the same quantity of vaccines would be returned in December.
In Melbourne, pubs and cafes can have unlimited patrons from Thursday night, while stadiums can return to full capacity as authorities lifted nearly all remaining COVID-19 restrictions for the vaccinated residents in Australia's second-largest city.
Victoria, the state that is home to Melbourne, has been gradually easing curbs as more people get inoculated. The full vaccination level for the eligible population is expected to reach 90 per cent over the weekend.
New South Wales, which includes Sydney, logged 262 cases on Thursday and Victoria 1,007 new infections, while the Australian Capital Territory reported 25. Fifteen deaths were registered.