The first batch of coronavirus shots arrived in Singapore on Monday, marking an important step in the city-state’s plan to vaccinate its population and serve as a global hub for distribution of the jabs.
Singapore Airlines Ltd. delivered the vaccines developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE from Brussels, the airline said in a statement on Monday. The shots were sent to ground handling operator SATS Ltd.’s cold-chain facility for subsequent storage and transportation.
“The vaccines were carried on board SQ7979, a scheduled freighter service from Brussels, Belgium, to Singapore,” the airline said. “This was also the first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipment to be delivered to a country in Asia.”
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said earlier this month that the nation has approved the use of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine and expects the first shipments by the end of December. The nation has set aside more than S$1 billion ($750 million) for vaccines and should have enough for its around 5.5 million-strong population by the third quarter.
Advance purchase agreements have also been made with other promising candidates, including those from Moderna Inc. and Sinovac Biotech Ltd., Lee said.
Deutsche Post AG-owned DHL handled the delivery in “special shipper boxes,” which had temperature trackers equipped with GPS to provide visibility throughout the vaccine’s journey, the logistics company said in a statement on Monday.
To provide global coverage over the next two years, DHL has estimated that about 15 million cooling boxes will be required across various supply chains.