Singapore received Asia’s first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech covid-19 vaccine early on Monday, giving rise to a hopeful possibility of putting an end to what the city-state's premier said had been a "long and arduous" year spent fighting the pandemic.
The global developed trade and finance hub is now in the same lucky boat as other countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States that have received the vaccine and are already in the process of giving out doses to their Healthline and frontline workers, as well as its citizens.
Singapore is a week away from Phase-3 of its reopening, and the news of the vaccine is the icing on the cake for a city that has handled the virus and respected the restrictions fairly well.
The shipment of vaccines was carried by a scheduled Singapore Airlines (SIA) Boeing 747-400 freighter SQ7979. The flight departed from Brussels, Belgium, on Sunday and arrived in Singapore on Monday at 7.55 pm, SIA said in a press statement.
“Delighted to see the first shipment of vaccines arrive in Singapore," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote on Facebook after a Singapore Airlines flight carrying the vaccines landed from Belgium.
Vaccinations in Singapore will be voluntary and priority will be given to those at greatest risk, such as frontline and healthcare workers, as well as the elderly and the vulnerable, Mr Lee had said. Singapore plans to inoculate 5.7 million people by the third quarter of 2021.
Thereafter, an Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination has proposed to progressively vaccinate the rest of the population and to cover everyone who wants a vaccination by the end of 2021. Vaccinations will be free for all Singaporeans as well as long-term residents currently in Singapore.
The city-state of Singapore has reported around 58,432 cases, but only 29 deaths so far.