Bangkok, Dec 22 (efe-epa).- Singapore has received the first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, the city-state government said on Tuesday.
The city-state last week approved Pfizer’s jab joining other countries like Britain and the United States.
“Delighted to see the first shipment of vaccines arrive in Singapore on flight SQ7979 – a welcome ‘present’ that we’ve all been looking forward to,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote on Facebook.
“It has been a long and complicated year, I hope that this news (about the arrival of the vaccine) brings joy in this festive season and reasons to be optimistic in 2021,” he said.
The vaccination will be voluntary and free, said the prime minister.
Singapore plans to inoculate its 5.7 million people by September 2021. Health workers, the elderly, and the medically vulnerable would be prioritized by the government in the vaccine plan.
The prime minister said the government would announce details of the rollout in due course. “Vaccination will be voluntary, but I encourage Singaporeans to take the vaccine.”
Minister of Transport Ong Ye Kung said they intended to turn Singapore, the trade and finance hub, into a nerve center for the transport and distribution of vaccines in the region.
The minister said that before shipping the vaccine, the airline carried out test routes, and to secure the cargo, they used dry ice and controlled the temperature at all times.
The drug, which needs below -70 degrees Celsius, arrived on Monday night on a flight operated by Singapore Airlines that took off from Brussels.
The city-state has recorded more than 58,200 confirmed cases, including 29 deaths, since the start of the pandemic.
It plans to relax restriction measures from Dec 28.
The relaxation will include increasing the limit allowed in social gatherings from five to eight and relatives.
Singapore also has pre-purchase agreements for vaccines produced by several pharmaceutical companies, including the American company Moderna and the Chinese company Sinovac. EFE-EPA